Local record label Totally Gross National Product has had a long history of releasing of the Twin Cities’ most experimental and complex records, with more than a handful gathering extensive praise throughout the years. In 2012, the label went on a hiatus to prepare for an eventual relaunch, and that time is now upon us.
The new website is now live, and the guys behind the magic sat down with David Campbell for a special interview. Joining in on the conversation were Ryan Olson (Gayngs, Polica, Marijuana Deathsquads), Drew Christopherson (Poliça), Jake Luck (Leisure Birds), Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) and Lazerbeak (Doomtree). They let us know all the updates regarding the relaunch, as well as pertinent discussions on various other topics.
In typical Ryan Olson fashion, we couldn’t get just a straight-forward interview. Instead, he remixed the audio, giving us one of the most interesting segments on The Local Show in some time. In case you miss some of the details, we’ve outlined topics discussed in the interview below. You can also stream the 10 songs premiered on the show, and read blurbs about each act courtesy of TGNP.
Totally Gross National Gallery
Besides being a record label, TGNP will be relaunched with a section on the website dedicated to curated content by a slew of guest contributors, as well as TNGP personnel. The curated content could literally be about anything: videos, new songs, events, essays, etc.
Totally Gross Radio
The homepage will now feature digital radio, programmed with multiple channel options streaming TGNP-related music. It will allow the label to premiere new music, showcase past releases and do one-time only or live presentations. Streaming 24/7 with scheduled broadcasts and programming.
Originally run by Ryan Olson and Drew Christopherson and with Max Lasker joining later, TGNP has added a few new characters to the mix. General management of the business will now be overseen by Jake Luck. Justin Vernon will also join with Ryan Olson to curate the label’s expanding roster.
TGNP Monthly Showcase
Beginning in June, TGNP will host a monthly event at Icehouse on the last Friday of each month featuring TGNP-related artists, as well as artists the labels promotes and collaborates with. Depending on timing and availability, these showcases may be utilized to premiere new material and acts.
Release Schedule for 2013
There are nine releases tentatively planned between now and September. TGNP plans to maintain a release schedule of at least one project per month for the remainder of the label’s existence.
You can download the TNGP 2013 sampler here.
All band information provided by Drew Christopherson
The Cloak Ox is made of four staunch music-making Midwestern men. They are Andrew Broder, Jeremy Ylvisaker, Mark Erickson and Martin Dosh and their names may be familiar. Of course, they may not be. They hail from Minneapolis and have been friends for many years, playing a lot—a lot—of music together and apart. They have started bands, quit bands, restarted bands, played in others’ bands, inspired other people’s bands that became very successful, and even sometimes joined those bands after the fact. Suffice it to say, they have played damn near every kind of music there is to play.
“Josephine” is a stellar example of their ability to craft a near-perfect pop song, while exploring the realm of rock and roll. The control these guys have over their instruments is wizardly, and their forthcoming full-length record is absolutely full of impressive moments and unforgettable jams.
Marijuana Deathsquads are comprised of multiple drummers, a slew of electronic instruments, and highly effected vocals, spear-headed by Ryan Olson, Stef Alexander (P.O.S.), Isaac Gale, Ben Ivascu (Poliça, STNNNG), Mark McGee (Father You See Queen), and Jason Power (Slapping Purses). Their live shows are a violent onslaught of improvised electronic-hardcore. Their live shows, as well as studio recordings, feature multiple collaborations with a ton of outsourced musicians. This results in a constantly evolving experience, teeming with spontaneity and surprise.
“Bad Boy Masterpiece” displays the band’s unique use of abrasive electronic textures alongside hardcore percussion and ghostly, effected vocals. Play it loud, and play it often for maximum enjoyment.
“Road Silk” is the first piece of music to be made public from Motioner, the debut solo project from recent Minneapolis transplant BJ Burton. Although Burton’s musical pedigree is glistening with accolades and accomplishments, the music of Motioner stands alone as a powerful display of his depth and vision as a musician, writer, and producer.
For the last couple of years, BJ has spent most of his studio time behind the board, recording and mixing many great records from bands like The Rosebuds, Megafaun, Polica, and Marijuana Deathsquads, as well as actively working with Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) at his Wisconsin based studio on various upcoming projects. Burton recently gave up his duties as a member of The Love Language (Merge Records). After co-writing and producing their latest record as well as playing guitar in the North Carolina act, he dug up his roots and firmly planted them in Minneapolis.
The music of Motioner, however, is unlike any project he’s been a part of to date. It is a fresh display of Burton’s unique point of view as a musician, and as a sonic manipulator. Although the sound is nostalgic in nature, recalling elements of shoegaze and alternative rock, it is a fresh take on the wall-of-sound aesthetic and guitar-driven overtures. “Road Silk” is a shining example of Burton’s understanding of melody and composition, and showcases his gorgeous, ethereal vocals and infectious guitar work. It is currently the only available recording of Motioner, and is a convincing glimpse into what will surely be an impressive debut.
Pony Bwoy is the latest project from rapper/singer/provocateur Jeremy Nutzman (aka Spyder Baybie Raw Dog), this time teaming up with producer Hunter Morley. Departing from his usual antics as a drugged-up after-party boy late to the club, Nutzman has now blossomed into a soulful smooth-talker, with vocal chops and rhythmic control of uncanny proportions. This transformation is no doubt a result of his collaborating with Morley and his forward thinking R&B-inspired production. The songs of Pony Bwoy vary from dance floor anthems to late-night chill zone lullabies for intimacy.
“Dark Soccer” is the first taste of this exciting new project, and the rest of the album (coming this summer to TGNP) is equally as strong. Pony Bwoy is sure to bring a fresh sound to the Twin Cities, truly unlike any other act around town, as well as around the world.
Moonstone Continuum is a conceptual ensemble on indefinite sabbatical in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a northerly land of innumerable weedy beaches. At its burbling core, Moonstone disguises unacceptable, private emotions in cosmetic Italian suits. Relying heavily on an often frantic theatrical component, live shows routinely feature visceral, ritualized audience interaction, with delicately manicured songs intended to move the passive listener to fits and seizures of raucous ecstasy. In the service of creating shows that are discreet aesthetic experiences, Moonstone has played such idiosyncratic venues as the Marshall W. Alworth Planetarium and the historic Glensheen Murder-Mansion, as well as more traditional locales such as the Varsity Theater (with Night Moves) and the First Avenue Mainroom (with Solid Gold and P.O.S.).
Previously, Moonstone offered show-goers a unique insider perspective on the terrifying realm of a fascistic cult known as Lunarianism. While the marketing lessons of pedaling a morally dubious faith continue to inform how Moonstone relates to the citizenry, the band has replaced the divisive trappings of folk religionism with the burnt-down cool of Miami’s golden years. In its incarnation as Moonstone Continuum: Salon Edition the band provides all the pomp and glitz of Biscayne Boulevard, but with a mouthful of the filth washed into the gutter after a seething tropical rain. The band’s tireless manager, J.Michael Fellows, has scoured every roadhouse, house band, and band camp to cobble together a group of healthy-looking young professionals who traffic simultaneously in the complex song structures and electronic textures of prog-rock, and the silken sensibilities and cleanly production values of R&B and yacht-rock.
Recently named “Twin Cities Best Female Vocalist” by City Pages, Lizzo has thrusted her presence onto the Twin Cities with brute force since relocating here from Houston, TX. As a member of the now-beloved vocal group The Chalice, and a former founding member of Lizzo & The Larva Ink, Lizzo has been quite prolific in her local output, but despite a very busy schedule of shows, rehearsals, and writing sessions, she has found yet another exciting project to showcase her skills as an emcee and songstress. This time with Doomtree producer and Minneapolis music vet Lazerbeak.
It was LAVA BANGERS, a 20-track instrumental mixtape from Lazerbeak, that caught her ear. Her timing could not have been better. Beak, impressed with Lizzo’s output with The Chalice, as well as her guest appearances on several other local releases, was looking for a change of pace from his daily Doomtree production and business responsibilities. He immediately signed on to work on some demos. Beat tapes were exchanged, songs were written, and mutual friend and musical collaborator Ryan Olson (Totally Gross National Product founder, Gayngs/Marijuana Deathsquads mastermind) was brought on board to creatively oversee the project. Olson recorded and edited all 15 tracks in his bedroom studio, bringing in laid back hype-man Cliff Rhymes along the way to add even more layers to Lizzo’s dynamic vocals.
“T-Baby” is the first taste of her forthcoming TGNP release entitled LIZZOBANGERS, and is the culmination of that four-way collaboration, an album that manages to capture all of the varied musical influences of Lizzo’s upbringing and combine them with the forward-thinking experimental production style of Beak and Olson. The end result is a brave new project that encapsulates the best parts of both the familiar and the future.
Dance party eccrine and experimental noise abrasion may seem like distinct corners of the musical universe, but those with their nose in the Twin Cities underground know the explosive potential when the ‘tween do meet. Like a methed-out Afrikaa Bambaataa scratching your itch for brain scrambling distortion, Slapping Purses is this nexus. Kick drum whumps, bass boom throbbing, garbled bombardments of sharp noise, and the most sinister command of breaks, breaks, breaks, since Marley Marl and Co. reinvented James Brown — Jason Power (aka Slapping Purses) is a one-man self-sampling electronic noise-dance party to go. Bamboozling brains and bouncing booties with classic old school Roland electronic drums sounds, vocals pushed through a homemade jewel encrusted Microphone/kill box and a madman’s grab bag of voltage controlled oscillators and amplitude modulators, Slapping Purses packs diamond tight the harshest boom shakalaka you ever slashed a rug to.
Tender Meat are a two-piece electro-tribal-groove band based out of Minneapolis featuring Andy Fritz on keyboards/electronics and Jon Coe on drums/percussion/electronics. They have been associated with local labels such as SAC Records and Moon Glyph. Tender Meat has recorded four albums — Ripper’s World, recorded with Steve Ernest in 2012, being their most recent. They are currently working on a fifth, tentatively titled I.T.H.C.U to be released later in 2013 on Totally Gross National Product. The music of Tender Meat is equally playful as it is experimental, covering various genres sporadically and spastically, all within the confines of a two-piece ensemble.
UMAMI has forged their sound since the fall of 2010 through an approach that has been equal parts reckless abandon and calculated design. Drawing inspiration mostly from electronic dance music and psychedelic rock, their sound is strange, but oddly accessible. UMAMI is Angelo Pennacchio on vocals, Peter Blomgren on guitar/bass, Charlie Smith on synths/production and Andrew Finseth on drums/percussion.
Self-described as an “innovator of advent-elliptical jim wav music and luke dragon’s weed”, Elmore counts PE noise artist and BM musician Seth Vanhorn of Disthroned Agony, SND of Raster Noton, V/VM and Pan Sonic as key influences. Releasing music exclusively via the BBPWC web server since 2004, Elmore is the founder of Bootlegs by People Who Care and the Center for Experimentally Advanced Recordings and Research, as well as a board member of the Minneapolis Coalition for the Continuing Consideration of the Arts. He’s also done collaborative work with Seth Vanhorn and solo work under various aliases including Jon Jacob 3, Never Say DJ Fred Equipment and James St. Murder Laden Mitten Wonder.
Albert’s 2011 debut release with TGNP took our ears and brains and mushed them into true believers of his artistic craft. He is a beloved contributor to our output as a label, and we bubble with excitement whenever we hear of new output from this electronic music wiz kid. His understanding of sonic treatments and arhythmic pattern making are inspiring and impressive, and we couldn’t be happier having him on the TGNP team.