After living overseas for a few years Lai returns to ArcLight with a body of work titled, ‘Freeze Frame: The Beauty Within.’ Coinciding with the Asian World Film Festival, viewers get to see uninterrupted scenes taken randomly and by pure chance. Her visual diary of street photography includes images shot while in a moving vehicle and at waist level. Filmmaker Monique Lai says, “I saw stories in front of me, and without looking thru the viewfinder, I had to trust that I got it.”
6400 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, 90028
BANKS' new album, The Altar, comes out September 30th on Harvest Records - on CD, LP and Amoeba Exclusive Translucent Red Vinyl versions. Purchase your copy beginning 9/30 at Amoeba Hollywood to attend this special signing event. Free poster with purchase, while they last!
“This is me looking in the mirror and being present in the moment,” she says. “Not being scared of change, and not being scared of my own strength and my own power.”
When BANKS broke out with 2014’s Goddess, she became the world’s most blogged about artist, with a voice compared to the likes of Fiona Apple, Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill, and a sound that took alt-pop and R&B to electrifying new places. With every song written and controlled creatively by BANKS, The Altar pushes those edges even further, and pulls no punches. It’s an inspiring confrontation of complicated love, pain, and self-doubt.
“I pushed myself. I pushed my boundaries. I found my own strengths while making this album,” she says. “I found that when I needed a shoulder to lean on, I could be that shoulder for myself.”
The album opens with “Gemini Feed” a song that swells with core-shaking beats, and her stirring voice turns resolute: “Open up your eyes.”
Nowhere is BANKS’ fearless self-confrontation more evident than in “Fuck With Myself,” which Zane Lowe premiered in July as a Beats 1 “World Record.” “I fuck with myself more than anybody else,” sings BANKS, cutting through propulsive beats and ominous grooves. In the powerful, jarring video she dances and struggles with contortionists wearing her image--it’s hard to watch, but it has to be faced. “In the video I'm looking in a mirror, because it's like looking at myself with open eyes. My hair is not in my face anymore. I feel less scared to be seen.”
On the haunting, slow-burning “Mind Games,” she challenges us to do just that: “Do I ever have to notice? I’ve been standing here and I don't know why. Did you ever even see me try? Do you see me now? Do you see me now? Do you see me now?”
Other songs on the album like “Mother Earth” are fearless in their vulnerability--led by strings and acoustic guitar, BANKS sings “Follow me to my bed, cause every time you fall I'll be holding your head up. And when will you get tired of feeling bad? And every time you fall, follow me.”
“I wrote that song when I was feeling sickened by this weight that society puts on women,” she says. “It tries to make them want to be as small as possible and take up as little space as possible. Be as perfect and wrapped up in a bow as possible. My sister just gave birth to a baby girl and I just I felt really sad and scared for her because I didn't want her to feel how I have felt.”
The album, which features collaborations with producers and writers including Tim Anderson, SOHN, DJ Dahi, and Jenna Andrews, was driven by BANKS’ deep, insistent need for raw expression and solace.
“Once I was ready to write again it really just poured out of me,” she says. “It was just like my body needed it so bad. I think I was probably chomping at the bit to put everything that I had gone through on paper. I went through a depression while I was creating, and it came out in my music in the best way--not in a sad way, but all of this deep-seated stuff that was weighing on my mind.”
And the album’s title, The Altar, honors the spiritual experience of that creation.
“Sometimes it feels like the inspirations for my songs come from somewhere else, where I’m not even thinking, they just come out,” says BANKS. “My music and my songs, they feel like my religion, and the altar is the holiest place there is.”
3500 Watt Way, Los Angeles, 90089
Feuding fairy royalty, itinerant actors and ill-fated lovers meet in an enchanted moonlit forest on a warm summer night and prove the course of true love is anything but smooth. William Shakespeares b...
North Campus, Los Angeles, CA 90095
Farzad Amoozegar has been playing the tar and setar since his childhood. For this program, he is joined by oud player Gabriel Lavin and accomplished sitar player and director of UCLAs Music of Indian Ensemble Rahul Neuman. Accompanied by other musicians, Amoozegar, Lavin and Neuman perform melodies and music from the North Indian, Iranian and Arabic traditions.
North Campus, Los Angeles, CA 90095
Director: Emma Christopher, 2013, running time: 90 minutes They Are We is the story of a remarkable reunion of a family torn apart by the ravages of the transatlantic slave trade. In central Cuba, members of the Gang-Longob?a small Afro-Cuban ethnic grouphave kept their unique heritage alive through decades of brutal enslavement, independence wars, and religious oppression. This film documents the efforts of director Emma Christopher to trace the origins of Gang-Longob dance and song traditions back to Sierra Leone where ancestors of the group were originally enslaved. Co-presented with Dance Camera West.
5515 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, United States, CA 0
It's hard to think of anything more starkly reliable than the ticking of a clock, but time is an untrustworthy thing. It feels like ages since we've had a proper Pete Yorn LP to dissect, though it's been just five years. And it seems like only yesterday that we first heardmusicforthemorningafter, which came out back in 2001. Yorn's brand new album and Capitol Records debut, ArrangingTime, plays with the elasticity of the years both in between and since — it's not only a culmination of the Los Angeles by way of New Jersey artist's adventurous latter-day projects, but a return to his original leaner methods.
For the first time since 2003's Day I Forgot, producer R. Walt Vincent returns to help Yorn execute his most poised and diverse set of songs yet. ArrangingTime runs the gamut from elegiac folk to wasteland blues to upbeat, synth-kissed rock. Of course, some things never change. Yorn still plays the observer, stepping into characters — or his past selves from previous years — routing wistful poems and beatific visions through the weather-beaten voice of a man who's seen a few things in his time.
"I'll look at pictures of places I went, or things I did," says Yorn, "and I think, 'Look at how great that day was and you just missed it.' I think about the past and how much of it is a blur. The title of the album is a reminder to be present and within each song is a minor lesson about that. Time only gets faster as you get older."
We blinked and Yorn turned 40, but he isn't settling or slowing. If the extra-musical side of his last few years has been about anything, it is hard work. He's focused on personal growth, broken bad habits, learned to get out of his own way, and become more lithe to life's undulations. He got married. He gave the commencement address at alma mater Syracuse University (his speech was about running toward the stuff that makes you uncomfortable in life). And last year, after completing an acoustic tour without a backing band or a set list, he welcomed a child into this world.
"I was taking my life back," says Yorn. "It was back-to-back with the records, and I toured a lot. There used to be just one way to approach the road in my mind: fucking burn it out. I had to realize, 'Maybe I'm addicted to some things, and a little scared of adulthood.' I said, 'I want to tackle this.' Now, discipline feels better than excess."
As he prepares to release another album, it's clear his music has been shored up too. By one measure, another trick of time, Yorn's first three albums span a single day. The so-called "trilogy" — musicforthemorningafter, Day I Forgot, and Nightcrawler (2006) — captures the man's progression from an unknown songwriter unspooling raw magic at the storied Café Largo, to the sort of dude who can dial up Dave Grohl for a ripping drum solo and trade twanged verses with Natalie Maines. Those all found Yorn solo with a producer, building songs in the studio (or garage).
But for his last two, 2009's Back & Fourth and 2010's Pete Yorn, he did the session thing, stepping into readymade bands under the guidance of Saddle Creek producer Mike Mogis and Pixies genius Frank Black, respectively. And those were bookended by collaborative projects: 2009's playful album-length duet with Scarlett Johansson, Break Up, and The Olms(2013), a sunny, '60s-styled retro-pop duo with J.D. King.
"I went on a run abandoning my first approach," says Yorn. "I was molting an old skin in a lot of ways. After that, it felt natural to come back to just letting it flow with Walt. I have no illusions: You can't walk through the same river twice. I'm not trying to recreate an album I made in my 20s. I'm revisiting a method. I started off doing watercolors, then I did sculpting. And now I'm back on watercolors."
But he does bring his experience with him to the looser style of his first producer, R. Walt Vincent (with work from a couple of others). ArrangingTime opener "Summer Was a Day" drops us into the desert at night — it's lush with shimmering ambience, swelling strings, ringing guitar strum and skittering beats. And while "In Your Head" juxtaposes Springsteen's heartland chug with Morrissey's dramatic softness, a song like "Shopping Mall" is just understated and pretty — spare on instrumentation and generous with emotion. Penultimate track "Tomorrow" is almost a dance cut, and Yorn's attempt to buck the singer-songwriter trend of the album-ending slow fade.
ArrangingTime flows like a mixtape with Yorn's warm voice and perspective as the through-line. These 12 songs are populated by fragmented folks: people waiting for something to happen (the bus-stop sitter in the dreamy "Halifax"), or chasing a feeling they once had (the angsty burnout in the raucous "Screaming at the Setting Sun"). But it's not all so bleak — light seeps through the cracks in "I'm Not the One," where our host morphs into a loner coming to terms with his self-imposed isolation.
"I'm an observer," says Yorn. "I'm into subtleties, the moments between moments, but I don't pretend to know where all the ideas come from. I try to clear myself, create a melody and let that emotion dictate what comes out. I like my own songs when I haven't even figured them out yet. I'm into the mysterious part of the process."
But we're still allowed to guess at the hidden lessons of ArrangingTime. In the case of the characters above, one's stuck on the future, one's trapped in the past, and the other's learning to be present. The ambling "Walking Up" acknowledges outcomes both negative and positive as neutral — the titular act is what's important: facing the challenge, eyes open, in the moment. Because as seemingly treacherous as that tick-tock, tick-tock can be, it's not time that's changeable. It's the timekeeper.
2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90049
Travel on a diasporic odyssey with singer, musician, and cultural instigator Meklit. Immersed in her sonic homelands of Ethiopian traditional songs, jazz, and the songwriter tradition, Meklit performs music of going and returning that grooves and soars. Hear her celebrate the newness of life and the ties that bind us together, and be inspired to bridge the frontiers between language, tribes, and disciplines.
NPR hails: “[Meklit] Hadero’s sound is a unique blend of jazz, Ethiopia, the San Francisco art scene and visceral poetry; it paints pictures in your head as you listen.”