TIME Music

Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O Gets Intimate on Her Solo Debut

The lo-fi sounds of "Rapt" are disarmingly charming

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This post is in partnership with NME.

“Love’s a f-cking b-tch / Do I really need another habit like you?” coos Karen O over creaky acoustic guitar in this first glimpse at her upcoming debut solo album. “Rapt,” along with the rest of Crush Songs was written way back in 2006, a time when life, not just romance, was proving a “f-cking bitch” for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman. Following a failed tryst with film maker Spike Jonze (“I wasn’t sure I’d ever fall in love again,” she later explained), the New Yorker was also facing up the prospect of loneliness in other areas of her life: “I really contemplated quitting. Things had gotten pretty bad between us,” the singer told NME of her working relationship with YYYs guitarist Nick Zinner soon after the release of 2006’s Show Your Bones. “The future felt completely unwritten.”

All the uncertainty and melancholy of that period simmers noticeably under the hushed lo-fi sounds of “Rapt.” A heart-crushing vignette about trying to break up with a lover you know is bad for you, fans hoping for the post-punk grandeur of YYYs favorites “Maps,” “Gold Lion” or 2013’s “Sacrilege” will feel let down. Instead, this is Microphones-esque bedroom folk so intimate it’s claustrophobic and disarmingly charming. Remember “The Moon Song,” the stirring, stripped-back track Karen wrote for Spike Jonze’s 2013 Oscar winner Her? This is more of the same: a haunting, simple campfire ballad.

Why wait till now to release “Rapt” and the upcoming Crush Songs? It’s hard to say. With Karen now married to music video director Barnaby Clay, who shot the clip for the YYYs’ “Zero” as well as this song’s underwater video, maybe this release is a form of closure for the singer. Or maybe the tracks on “Crush Songs,” written during that period of uncertainty for YYYs, began life as demos for a big solo career launch when the NYC trio disbanded? Karen might have thought they were too good to sit at home on a computer hard drive after the group’s second wind following last year’s “Mosquito.” Or maybe it’s just a favour to the Strokes’ Julian Casablancas, whose new Cult Records label is releasing the album and could do with a blockbuster name on their roster. Who knows and, frankly, who cares? “Rapt” is a warming glimpse at another side to the raucous, screaming figure Karen cuts in YYYs. It’s a side we’ve seen in short bursts via soundtrack work (Her, 2009’s Where The Wild Things Are) but never across a whole album. The future feels unwritten again for Karen O – but this time in a good way.

‘Crush Songs’ is released on September 8.

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TIME viral

The ‘Turn Down for What’ Music Video Is Even Weirder Without Music

Turn down… the volume? 

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The music video for DJ Snake and Lil Jon’s cryptic smash hit “Turn Down for What” is pretty freaky. The protagonist gets hit with some kind of contagious twerking disease and starts smashing things with his genitals. But maybe the lyrics explain the action: the video definitely doesn’t turn down for anything, “keeping the partying going,” as Vox put it.

But when you remove the music, as in this surreal YouTube edit, it’s ten times more bizarre. Without the justification of the lyrics, the video seems to be… a fairy tale about a man who can’t stop air-humping things?

TIME Music

Childish Gambino Mans Up, Declares Himself ‘the Best Rapper’ Alive

Donald Glover (aka "Childish Gambino") performs at the RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest
Childish Gambino performs at the RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest on July 12 in Ottawa, Canada. Mark Horton—Getty Images

Better known to some as Donald Glover, the multitalented entertainer called out Drake, Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy Q during a show in Sydney. It might be just what he needs to take the next step

Donald Glover’s rapper alter-ego, Childish Gambino, has always been brash. He’s talked about his sexual exploits, his boundless talent and his popularity since he started releasing tracks six years ago. But the cocksure verses spat by Childish Gambino were always tempered by what we knew about the “real” Donald Glover, the one who went from Stone Mountain, Georgia, to NYU to the writers’ room of 30 Rock to the role of gentle soul Troy Barnes on Community, all with the apparent humility of someone who didn’t attain multi-platform success and acclaim before the age of 30.

Over the last couple years, however, Glover has seemingly made an effort to reconcile his rapper persona with his public one. First, he dropped off the grid. Then he dropped out of Community. Now it appears he’s devoted his full attention to his music career, dropping his second studio album Because the Internet in December of last year and embarking on his multi-continent Deep Web tour.

The final act of the old Donald Glover — or perhaps the first act of the new one — came over the weekend during a show in Sydney. Though Childish Gambino has always been irrepressibly cocky, his modus operandi has been to not call out his peers without provocation (typically preferring to fire shots at those who’ve called him a “fake” rapper or criticized him for not being black enough). That changed with one verse from Sunday’s show:

I’m the best rapper, definitely top five.
If these other rappers think they’re better, they’re f—ing not alive.
I cut their head off, that’s every rapper living.
That’s Kendrick. That’s Drake. That’s Schoolboy. That’s everyone.
I don’t give a f—, I’ll kill n—s.

He later added:

This n— think he Drake. Nah, I ain’t Drake.
I sing better, I do better, my sh— wetter.

Some may believe Glover’s rant is ill-advised. After all, he hasn’t enjoyed nearly the critical or commercial success that either Drake or Kendrick Lamar have over the last few years. But his declaration may have been necessary. It’s a whole lot easier to dismiss an actor-turned-rapper whose verses are devoted to his taste in women and clever rhymes about esoteric topics than it is one who’s calling out two of the biggest names in the game while in the midst of an enormous tour. And it’s hard not to appreciate the irony of Glover going after Kendrick, whose “Ether”-worthy verse on Big Sean’s “Control” elevated him to more than just a critical darling.

It’s clear now that Glover is not — and has no interest in being — a rapper whose fanbase is comprised largely of Community fans and predominantly white teenagers (who made up at least 90% of the crowd when I went to a Childish Gambino show in 2011). We don’t know yet whether there will be any blowback from Glover’s verse in Sydney, but it’s not hard to imagine Drake, Kendrick and some of Glover’s fans — at least the more casual ones — being less than thrilled.

Regardless of the fallout from Glover’s verse, it was a savvy move. His die-hard fans, of which there are plenty, are sure to love the fact that their guy is willing to go after the giants of the industry, and it may inspire those who’ve long held Childish Gambino as a novelty to reconsider that position. Best rapper alive? Highly debatable. But Glover might now be part of a conversation that he never was a part of before.

TIME Music

REVIEW: Jenny Lewis Is Out of This World on The Voyager

Jenny Lewis, The Voyager
The Voyager Warner Bros.

Her first solo album in six years does not disappoint

Jenny Lewis is the kind of artist who could drop an album of animal noises she recorded in the woods and still have fans foaming at the mouth. So beloved is the former Rilo Kiley frontwoman that it’s almost surprising there wasn’t more outcry from her devotees in the six years it took to release another solo album. Sure, she kept somewhat busy — putting out a record with boyfriend Johnathan Rice, touring with a reunited The Postal Service — but as she reminds listeners on her third outing, The Voyager (out now), there’s nothing quite like Jenny Lewis front and center.

The Voyager is her least rootsy album to date, one that recalls the polish of her old band’s swan song, 2007’s Under the Blacklight, rather than the folk and country leanings of 2006’s Rabbit Fur Coat and 2008’s Acid Tongue. As effortless and breezy as the final product sounds, though, The Voyager wasn’t so easy to make: in the years since her last album, Rilo Kiley disbanded, Lewis’ father passed away and she battled severe insomnia the once kept her up for five days straight.

Lewis can be cagey about just how much she’s revealing in the lyrics that appear most confessional — see a recent, almost comically tight-lipped explanation of the lyrics in “Just One of the Guys” — but references to her struggles do dot the record. Or rather, sandwiching tales of colorful characters and vice, they bookend it. On the album opener “Head Underwater,” Lewis sings of mourning, hallucinations and finding freedom after confronting her own mortality; on the closing title track, she mentions wake-up calls and departing for heaven to get out of this world. Befitting its title, the album meditates on a number of journeys: entering the altered states of sleep deprivation, overcoming personal turmoil, crossing into life after death.

Her subject matter couldn’t be more suited to her creative process. “I am writing from a very simplistic place musically, and I feel like the words and melody come from somewhere else,” she told TIME earlier this summer. “They don’t come from an intellectual place, they arrive from another zone entirely.”

Lewis’ lyrics earn praise for their inclusive, non-judgmental studies of heartbreak and character flaws, but — her modesty aside — it’s hard to find a better summary of her songwriting strengths than her own explanation of how she works. Lewis’ music is timeless and her voice is far from otherwordly, but there is something to be said for the way her melodies have a habit of suddenly veering off into emotional sweet spots, taking songs into another zone entirely (to borrow her words). You hear it on the chorus of the Acid Tongue title track when Lewis sings the word “alive,” and, thankfully, you hear it over and over again across The Voyager. Like any good film score, string arrangements and production flourishes from Beck and Ryan Adams nudge listeners’ feelings toward those places, but it’s almost unnecessary at this point — Lewis can get you there all on her own.

TIME Music

REVIEW: Tom Petty’s New Album Hypnotic Eye Stays Red, White and Blue

Hypnotic Eye
Warner Bros.

The veteran's latest critiques modern America while embracing the heartland rock of their early years

This post is in partnership with NME.

For almost 40 years, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers have been channeling the red blood and blue collars of the USA into their radio rock. Yet Petty has rarely come across more overtly American than on this, his 13th studio album. Through the gritty rumble of opener “American Dream Plan B,” the honky-tonk blues of “Burnt Out Town” and the vigorous “Full Grown Boy” and “Shadow People” especially, these 11 songs see Petty harness the grand ol’ USA more than ever before. It’s not patriotic, though. Rather, this album critiques modern America while embracing the heartland rock of Petty’s early years. It won’t convert the unconvinced, but Petty sounds as inspired as ever.

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TIME Music

REVIEW: Common Speaks to Chicago on New Album Nobody’s Smiling

Common
Def Jam

The rapper continues to act as the voice of his city

This post is in partnership with Consequence of Sound, an online music publication devoted to the ever growing and always thriving worldwide music scene.

Chicago is rap’s cultural hub in 2014. The city is the home of the genre’s biggest megastar (Kanye), a sage-like voice of reason (Common), and it is abuzz with young upstarts making their presence felt in a plethora of unique ways. Regardless of the method of self-expression you consult, whether it’s the brash, raucous street garble of Keef or the stringy, often cautious stream-of-consciousness of Chance, there is always a larger, sociopolitical elephant in the room. Wherever Chicago and rap are concerned, the subtext permeating every hanging word is unmistakable: Violence plagues its inhabitants. Common has taken it upon himself to address it, being no stranger to the cause. His 10th studio album, Nobody’s Smiling, operates with Chicago’s astronomically high crime rate at its epicenter, and Common once again stands as the leading proponent for change, delivering wordplay lined with context — but this time his supporting cast plays just as important a role in crafting his chilling epic.

It’s fitting that the prominent voices opening Common’s dark opus bridge three different gaps of heavy Chicago soundspace. “The Neighborhood” is a bleak introduction to one of America’s most dangerous cities told by figures from its past, present, and future. Curtis Mayfield’s piercing pitch soundtracked a blacksploitation film while he pushed social consciousness at the height of the civil rights era. A sample of his “Other Side of Town” lays the foundation. Lil Herb embodies the gritty and aggressive new voice of the metropolis; a standout from the homegrown drill subgenre, Herb thoroughly documents the city’s widespread bloodshed first-hand, like the lead in a crime drama. He is deft enough to express what it’s like to exist in Chicago’s cyclical gang culture in real time.

Common is the link between the two, a “conscious” rapper that has spent over half his life peddling gems about the perils of urban life over looped soul. He has recounted civic regression in three different decades now, but this time it’s far more direct; this is a plea to Chicago itself, the “concrete matrix” as he calls it. The backbone that brings the generations together is fellow Chicagoan No I.D., who mentored Kanye and produced Common’s first three LPs. They link again on Nobody’s Smiling after collaborating in full on Common’s previous effort, the underappreciated The Dreamer/The Believer, and together they create a tale of inner city turmoil with Common’s personal narrative as a backstory. Nobody’s Smiling is a testament to how deep-rooted urban struggle is.

Nobody’s Smiling is most profound at its most melancholy. It’s draped in an ominous, gray cloud of sonic energy, an overcast atmosphere that seemingly exemplifies Chicago at its bleakest. There isn’t a hopeful tone; the LP is about Chicago as it is, not as it could be. On the title track, a brooding, sinister cut, Common spits, “I’m from Chicago, nobody’s smiling/ Niggas wylin on Stony Island/ Where the chief and the president come from/ Pop out, pop pills, pop guns.” Geographically speaking, he raps like he’s standing on every street corner in the city, reporting live from the scene like an eyewitness news team. Nobody’s Smiling works as sharp commentary because it balances Common’s perception with secondary insight from others heavily influenced by gang violence.

Common makes a point of shifting the focus onto the young surveyors of urban violence, both in Chicago and abroad, to help tell the tale. He does so not with the intent of making the message more palatable for younger audiences, but with the sole purpose of showcasing the savagery with renewed perspective. Vince Staples, perhaps the most levelheaded street rapper not named Freddie Gibbs, fuels Common’s narrative with self-aware vitriol on “Kingdom”, spewing with great disdain for the street lifestyle forced upon him. But there’s also an innate understanding of its necessity and its consequences. “Sweet Lord Jesus, tell the polices to let a nigga breathe/ My sinning father see, got a shipment by the seas/ See my niggas tryna eat, eat whatever’s on your plate/ Save some for me/ The worst things in life come sitting six feet,” he raps, and it’s clear he views brutality as his only means of survival. Common could never accurately communicate that on his own. On “The Neighborhood”, Herb nearly gets emotional rapping about perpetually being in close proximity with death: “I’ve been out there three days, and I got shot at three times/ Felt like every bullet hit me when they flew out each nine/ I be happy when I wake up and I have a free mind.” It’s a stunning look into the mind of a teenager surrounded by violence. Whether it’s Dreezy or James Fauntleroy, every act brings a layer of context and an added dimension to the portrait of inner city life.

The lead narrator of Nobody’s Smiling is still Common, despite so many voices in the periphery, but its unsung champion is No I.D. The producer, who is also the Executive A&R for Def Jam Recordings, litters the signees of his ARTium imprint throughout the project (Elijah Blake, Jhene Aiko, and Snoh Aalegra), and his impact is felt in each moment. “No Fear” sounds just like the sonic effigy of a concrete jungle, and Common matches its energy with raps on the primal instincts instilled in street dwellers. The closer, “Rewind That”, a song about turning back the clock and uniting with producers from Common’s past (particularly the late J Dilla), is the only record that doesn’t fit the central theme, but its expert chop of Eleanore Mills’ “Telegram” and its honest storytelling make it a standout. “Diamonds” feels out of place sonically, but it’s the closest thing the album has to an anthem. The “Hypnotize”-sampling “Speak My Piece” rings and tremors like an earthquake shaking a metal structure, and Common releases one of his more fluid flows. “My time, the streets is watching like a Rollie/ Do it for the hometown and the homies,” he raps, and his devotion is apparent.

The whole album was created in response to Chicago’s violence epidemic; together, Common and No I.D. create a formidable PSA that addresses the social issues without beating the listener over the head with them. Nobody’s Smiling is a well-rounded discourse on gang violence and inner city plight in Chicago that translates to almost every urban city in America. It is a triumph for conscious rap in a city that could use more self-awareness. Common continues to act as the voice of his city, further opening the dialogue on the problems that scourge it. Nobody’s Smiling is a warning. Hopefully, it wont be a eulogy.

Essential Tracks: “The Neighborhood” (feat. Lil Herb), “Speak My Piece”, and “Kingdom” (feat. Vince Staples)

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TIME Music

One Kid Snuck Into 50 Music Festivals and Filmed the Whole Thing

It's not illegal if you get an awesome movie out of it, right?

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Know how when you were a kid, you could never get into all the really cool, awesome concerts that you wanted to go to because you were too young or they were too expensive or God, Mom and Dad, you’re the worst? Marcus Haney decided he wasn’t going to worry about any of that and just go to the concerts anyway, doing whatever he could to get inside.

Sometimes that meant hopping fences, other times it meant forging wrist bands and once in a while it meant posing as a photographer. Haney’s main piece of advice for pulling all this off? “Walk with confidence.”

Not only did he end up going to all these fantastic shows — Coachella, Bonnaroo, etc. — but he even cut together all the footage from his various missions and made himself a film out of it, No Cameras Allowed. Not a bad gig, if you can get it.

[via Sploid]

TIME Music

Bose Is Suing Beats Over Headphone Patents

Apple Said To Be In Talks To Purchase Beats Headphones Company
Beats headphones in an Apple store on May 9, 2014 in New York City. Andrew Burton—Getty Images

As Beats is being bought by Apple

Bose is suing Beats Electronics over the noise-canceling technology in Beats’ headphones.

Bose filed suit in a U.S. District Court in Delaware Friday, claiming that Beats violated five different patents in the manufacture of its line of Studio noise-canceling headphones. The patents in question are for technology such as “Dynamically Configurable ANR Filter Block Technology” and “Digital High Frequency Phase Compensation.”

Bose is seeking an injunction to prevent Beats from selling the products it says violate its patents, as well as an award for damages.

Apple agreed to buy Beats for $3 billion in May. The deal is still pending regulatory approval.

TIME Music

Hear YouTube Superstar Troye Sivan’s Single ‘Happy Little Pill’

EMI Australia

His EP drops Aug. 15 — and pre-orders have already buoyed it to the top of the charts

One of YouTube’s biggest stars may be on his way to becoming the next big pop act.

Troye Sivan, a 19-year-old from Australia, is one of the video blogging community’s most beloved personalities; his YouTube channel has more than 3 million followers and his clips have accumulated 91.4 million views. (No big.) Earlier this summer, Sivan announced he’d signed a deal with EMI Australia and would release an EP, titled TRXYE, on Aug. 15. “Happy Little Pill,” the first single from the five-track set, dropped earlier this week — and it seems primed to move the teen into the big leagues, with melancholy lyrics and a downtempo electronic sound that give off a world-weary vibe.

“I wrote this song during a bit of a rough time for someone super close to me, and for myself, and it still means as much to me as the day i wrote it, and i’m still as in love with it as the day i wrote it,” the singer wrote on his Tumblr, when he shared the song with fans.

Now, the EP is No. 1 on iTunes and has soared to the top of iTunes charts all over the world. Earlier today, the star tweeted that TRXYE had hit No. 1 in 17 countries, while “Happy Little Pill” was at No. 1 in 13 countries. (Again, no big.)

Sivan isn’t new to singing — he was performing on shows like StarSearch in the early 2000s and has created other EPs in the past — but his crazy popularity suggests the teen is ready for the big leagues and testifies to the mounting influence of YouTube celebrities. Given, too, the massive success of his earlier song “The Fault in Our Stars” (inspired by the film), Sivan seems ready for IRL superstardom.

It’s about time — the world could use a replacement for #BieberFever.

TIME Music

deadmau5 Sounds Off on DJs, Antagonizing Everyone and His Label: Q&A

F. Scott Schafer

Plus, an exclusive premiere of a minimix from his new album

deadmau5 is a busy man. Joel Zimmerman, the Canadian electronic music producer known best by his stage name, not only just released his first double album, while(1<2), but also just finished competing in the Gumball 3000 rally, a Cannonball Run-style race that runs from Miami to Ibiza. While Zimmerman’s race in his Nyancat-decorated Ferrari was cut short due to a license suspension in France, his album was racing to the top of the dance charts, debuting at #1 on the iTunes chart and #4 on Billboard.

while(1<2) shows deadmau5 at this best — pairing unforgettable beats and hooks with sparse, film score-esque soundscapes and pushing the boundaries of the electronic and dance music form into minimalist atmospherics. The album is his first on Astralwerks and clocks in at a whopping 25 tracks, including remixes of two Trent Reznor songs, “Ice Age” by How To Destroy Angels and “Survivalism” by Nine Inch Nails.

Zimmerman recently remixed the ambitious album; TIME is premiering that track here:

TIME talked to the producer over IM about making music, picking fights and racing his so-called “Purrari”:

TIME: Do you still enjoy strapping on your mau5 head?

Deadmau5: At times. Other times it’s just uncomfortable, physically.

You just released a new track called Carbon Cookie. Can you tell me about that?

I had 30 minutes to kill. Not sure what I was doing, I think I was starting some track for half a second there and then facepalmed…. and just went with it. They usually end up in the recycling bin to be honest, I just figured whatever, but surprisingly enough, there was a melody in there that I’m throwing onto another track… so it wasn’t a total loss.

Were you trying to make a comment about EDM or just having fun?

A bit of both, I guess. They go hand in hand for me, but it’s hard to comment on anything “EDM” and not have a laugh.

What would you call electronic dance music?

Well, EDM used to be the broad term for it, I thought…. but I don’t know. I rarely follow the s–t as it as. I only really get a good taste of it when you gotta, like, do those festival gigs, and you’re playing last, which means more often than not you have to hang around all day and endure what everyone else is doing until your slot. Of course, that doesn’t include everyone, lots of great dudes making great music out there

When you have to “hang around all day and endure,” isn’t that because you’re headlining the festival?

Sometimes yeah, other times, well… catering, a sunny day, and good company always beats hanging out at a hotel.

What do you think is the major difference between the music you create and what other artists on the bill at a festival are doing?

Well, I get stuck in these DJ festivals mostly.

Right, and you’ve pretty firmly stated your aversion to being referred to as a DJ. What do you see as the main difference between what you do and DJs?

The genre, as it were, just seems pretty disposable to me in the sense that, you produce all this music, put 100% of you into your show, and you’re followed up or opening for some guy playing a CD player of some other dude’s s–t. That’s the gist of it.

Your new album is clearly carefully crafted. How long did it take you to make?

About a year or so.

There are 25 tracks on the album, so that seems pretty quick!

There were some projects included in there that I’ve been kicking around for many years, just couldn’t find the right spot for some of it. I think the album was a great time and place for me to showcase some of it.

The album feels very cohesive.

Well I’ll always have a skewed view on it, just due to my own familiarity with some of the work. I think that’s something every artist views things from time to time. I’d be pretty saddened to hear anyone say “Yeah, listen to this… God I’m awesome, the way this all sits together” about their own work.

Was that intentional or does it just reflect a mindset or mood that ran through its creation?

Nothing really intentional about the overall vibe. I’m pretty emotionally detached from a lot of things. LOL.

Oh really? You just get in the studio and …what?

Work. Create. Learn.

But what goes into making a song if not emotion?

Just a load of experimentation. I like to think of “the studio” as a laboratory, where I can go in, learn tricks, apply, revise, and release. I’d figure I had about the same emotional attachment to my craft as a guy over at NASA does over… NASA stuff.

How do you know if something is good enough for release? You said earlier that you stick stuff in the recycling bin a lot.

Maybe some here and there, but nothing worth crying over if I ever win a Grammy.

Do you consider yourself an artist or a craftsman or an engineer?

Well, the artistry comes in when you strive to detach from everything else you’ve heard a million times and once that part’s in, the brunt of the work is, what you said, sonic craftmanship and engineering.

How do you detach yourself? Is it something you have to learn?

It’s not something I’d recommend, or even knew how to do — it’s just something I’m naturally good at. I’m pretty sure a good psychologist could figure it out, but I don’t waste much time wondering why I am the way I am. There are some guys out there who make great music who may or may not be super-emotionally attached to their work. To each their own. I know some brilliant “EDM” artists… who can compose some really interesting melodies, but can’t engineer for s—t and vice versa. Its’ a rare gift to have both.

There’s been a lot of talk about artists that you don’t like or respect, so who do you like? What’s on your iPod?

Boards of Canada, Tycho, Com Truise, James Holden, many others. Jon Hopkins, amazing stuff!

What music were you playing in your car during the Gumball rally?

This:

Everything else was wiped from my iPod. No joke.

Really? That would make me drive extra quickly, just to put a stop to it. Your album has two How To Destroy Angels remixes, how did that come about?

Well, quite simply, I just really enjoy those works…. and sometimes I just wander off whatever I’m doing and re-produce / remix whatever you want to call it just to put a spin on it for my own satisfaction…. basically I just asked for permission to include those works into the album as they fit in nice, and Trent [Reznor] was kind enough to give us the green on it.

Reznor has moved into doing film scores now. Have you considered that career path at all?

Perhaps at one point, but from my understanding, it’s very time consuming!

This was your first album with Astralwerks. Do you feel like it’s a good fit for you there?

This answer is going to suck, because I feel obligated to just say things how they are. I don’t know anyone at Astralwerks. I’m sure they get on great with my manager and team, but I’ve never heard anything from them. I’m sure they do a great job at distribution. So yeah, thanks guys. I’m a little bummed out at their lack of interest in calling me, or emailing me, but that’s every major label. Sucks having to kinda do everything yourself…I’ve always imagined as a kid or whatever, being signed to a major, walking into their office, and having “meetings” and coming up with cool ideas and working on them together. I guess that’s where the importance of self reliability comes into play.

Are you looking for a collaborator? Or have you come to love your independence?

Maybe not musically, but creatively. “Hello, Mr Astral last name Werks, Joel here! How are you? Man, we should have some of my music scored! Let’s book an orchestra and get something done, what a cool project, and then we could press a limited edition set of it and sync out some to film, or just for fans. I actually asked for that about 8 months ago…. still haven’t gotten a response. Not expecting one anymore, so looks like I’ll just have to do this s–t myself.

You run your own record label now, mau5trap. Are you trying to do things differently there?

Well, mau5trap’s a little different. I have a solid team of people who I’ve known and trusted for many many years helping me out with that and they’ve been doing a great job. I chime in with my thoughts from time to time, but for the most part, I’m quite pleased with it.

And one of your new artists, Colleen D’Agostino, contributed vocals to one of your tracks.

Yeah, wouldn’t that have been awesome if Astralwerks procured that for me? Nope, my lawyer did (she’s cool as f–k). I love my lawyer. And I love Colleen. Never met her yet, but she’s got a voice… All natural talent, too. I love the lack of autotune.

You just competed in the Gumball 3000 Rally and drove from Miami To Ibiza. What was the best part of the race?

Winning. There were so many amazing moments, which is what made it so great for me. I cant even count the “omg remember when…” moments.

Would you do it again? Or have you already moved on to the next thing?

I’ve already booked my spot for next year’s run. In like Flynn.

I read that you didn’t get your driver’s license until you were 30, so are you making up for lost time?

Yeah… and today I was whipping around in an indy500 car in Toronto at the Honda Indy earlier today. I love driving. Specifically, I love driving fast. When legally permitted to do so.

What made you finally get your license?

Living in LA. I just moved there. You can’t get anywhere in LA without a car, before I was in downtown Toronto, no need for nothing!

Do you mind having a reputation as an antagonist? Or do you feel that by calling people out you are pushing music further?

Well, the way I see it, I just call it the way it is, or the way I see it. I don’t just spout off “made up s–t.”

Right, but you do it publicly, where as many people do that in their heads.

Yeah, I guess I catch myself thinking — why do I even bother? But then again, what changes either way. Plus, it’s entertaining.

Do you think you would be where you are in your career without social media?

Nope. Probably not.

Have any vendettas you’d like to air?

Not today, my friend, not today.

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