San Fermin

The Bowery Presents:

San Fermin

Andy Shauf, Julia Jacklin

Fri, May 5, 2017

Doors: 9:00 pm / Show: 10:00 pm

Gasa Gasa

New Orleans, LA

$15.00

This event is 18 and over

San Fermin
San Fermin
San Fermin’s third studio album, Belong, marks a shift in songwriting perspective for bandleader Ellis Ludwig-Leone. “In the past I’d usually write through characters from books or movies, as a way to try to distance myself from what I was writing about,” says the Brooklyn-based artist. “As I’ve become more confident as a songwriter, I decided that I could drop some of the artifice and write something more direct.” In bringing a more personal slant to his music, Ludwig-Leone found himself confronting such matters as disconnection, displacement, and—perhaps most significantly—everyday anxiety. “Anxiety is something I’ve dealt with since I was a kid, but on this album I talked about it more explicitly than I ever had before,” he points out.



Produced by Ludwig-Leone and brought to life by his fellow performers—lead vocalists Charlene Kaye and Allen Tate, trumpet player John Brandon, saxophonist Stephen Chen, violinist Rebekah Durham, drummer Michael Hanf, and guitarists Tyler McDiarmid and Aki Ishiguro—Belong unfolds in warm, intoxicating textures that both contrast and intensify that sense of unrest. The album’s hypnotic sound is embodied in “No Promises,” a shimmering pop opus about the fear of disappointing those who’ve placed their trust in you. On the quietly frenetic “Bride,” San Fermin conveys a fear of commitment by juxtaposing the idyllic imagery of wedding flowers with a detailed account of suffering a panic attack. And with “Dead” (a song about “not wanting anybody to depend on you,” according to Ludwig-Leone), the band telegraphs defiance in a gorgeously jagged arrangement built on clattering rhythms and Kaye’s penetrating vocal performance.



Elsewhere on Belong, San Fermin explores the intersection of desire and danger (on the subtly sinister “August”) and paints a tender portrait of self-destruction (on “Perfume,” a sweeping and cinematic track laced with piercing lines like “You can lose anything that you put your mind to”). On the brightly charged and bravely candid “Better Company,” meanwhile, Tate’s intimate vocals meet with stomping beats and furious strings. “That song is about my lifestyle when I’m not on tour, how I just sit in the basement and work on music and the house is kind of a wreck,” says Ludwig-Leone. “It’s recognizing how I don’t always keep myself the best company.” One of the album’s most powerful tracks, the slow-building “Belong” finds Tate and Kaye trading off verses to conjure up moments of gentle devastation. “‘Belong’ is about loving someone really deeply but also having the sad realization that you’re not always present with them,” says Ludwig-Leone. “But at the same time it’s also saying that that’s not necessarily wrong. It’s about acknowledging the isolation within love.”



Throughout Belong, San Fermin brings both elegance and raw passion to their performance, an achievement that Ludwig-Leone attributes to the band’s increasingly potent chemistry. “One of the nice things about this record was that, for the first time, I was writing for people I know super well and have performed with hundreds of times,” he says. “I feel like I really understand these musicians now and know what they want to do.”



For Ludwig-Leone, one of the greatest joys in making Belong was bearing witness to his band’s evolution. “It’s amazing to me that this thing I started by myself now has a shared consciousness and a life of its own,” he says. Describing Belong as “a record about realizing that you can’t always live with yourself, and finding a way to be okay with that,” Ludwig-Leone also notes that the album allowed him to reexamine the possibilities in songwriting. “There was a catharsis to writing these songs, where I was dealing with stuff that had been bubbling under the surface for a while,” he says. “I don’t think writing actually fixes anything—but it helps you to name the problem and maybe figure out how to live with it, and sometimes that’s enough.”



Originally from Massachusetts and raised by artists, Ludwig-Leone began making music at age eight and later studied music composition at Yale University. After a job assisting composer Nico Muhly, he founded San Fermin and released their full-length debut in 2013, which NPR called “one of the year’s most ambitious, evocative, and moving records.” The band’s sophomore album Jackrabbit arrived in April 2015, debuting at #8 on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart and solidifying the band’s spellbinding live show. Lauded as “explosive” (The New York Times) and “exceptional” (The Wall Street Journal), San Fermin has sold out shows worldwide, appeared at such festivals as Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits, and has opened for the likes of St. Vincent, The National, Arctic Monkeys, and alt-J.
Andy Shauf
Andy Shauf
The Party is the ANTI- (Arts & Crafts in Canada) full-length debut for this Canadian songwriter, who grew up in small-town Saskatchewan.

Awkward characters show up “Early to the Party,” and either reveal life-changing secrets (“To You”) or try their hardest to reveal nothing at all (“The Magician”). In “a city the size of a dinner plate,” everyone knew the guy who keeled over dead after smoking what he promised would be his last pack of cigarettes (“Alexander All Alone”). The girl dancing by herself, unselfconsciously, in the middle of the room, with the “Eyes of Them All” upon her. One moment you’re dancing with someone who bears an uncanny resemblance to your ex (“Martha Sways”), and later you start slagging your best friend as way of endearing yourself to his recently dumped ex (“Quite Like You”).

Did that all really happen in the same night? It certainly happens in the space of this tightly narrated thirty-eight minutes, all set to ornate arrangements of fuzzed-out guitars, string sections, clarinets and dreamy synths, all draped over delicate piano, acoustic guitars and rainy-day drums.

On his previous LP The Bearer of Bad News, Shauf started out with 100 songs and whittled it down to 11, the cream of the crop—no wonder it turned heads. This time, older, wiser, and with a clearer vision and narrative construct in mind, the self-produced multi-instrumentalist and master of subtlety focused on 15 and cut it to 10.

Recording began with a band in Germany in early 2014, but Shauf—who is endlessly rewriting lyrics and rearranging songs, building them up and then stripping them back to their basics—decided to start anew back home in Regina. There, he set up shop at Studio One, located in an old CBC building, and was left to his own devices. He plays all the instruments, with the exception of the strings, handled by Colin Nealis.

The Party is not exactly a concept record, but it was a way for the singer-songwriter to get out of his own head. An after-party record, more like it. Or for the hangover the next day, when only Shauf’s songs can make any sense of the emotionally-charged scenarios that played out the night before.

When The Party was over, Shauf had no regrets—even if its characters have more than a few
Julia Jacklin
Julia Jacklin
"These new lines on my face
spell out 'girl pick up your pace'
if you want to stay true
to what your younger self would do."
–Motherland

Julia Jacklin thought she'd be a social worker.

Growing up in the Blue Mountains to a family of teachers, Jacklin discovered an avenue to art at the age of 10, thanks to an unlikely source: Britney Spears.

Jacklin chanced upon a documentary about the pop star while on family holiday. "By the time Britney was 12 she'd achieved a lot," says Jacklin."I remember thinking, 'Shit, what have I done with my life? I haven't achieved anything.' So I was like, 'Mum, as soon as we get home from this holiday I need to go to singing lessons.'

Classical singing lessons were the only kind in the area, but Jacklin took to it. Voice control was crucial, and Jacklin flourished. But the lack of expression had the teen seeking substance, and she wound up in a high school band, "wearing surf clothing and doing a lot of high jumps" singing Avril Lavigne and Evanescence covers. It wasn't much but she was hooked.

Jacklin's second epiphany came after high school. Travelling in South America she reconnected with high school friend and future foil Liz Hughes. The two returned home to the Blue Mountains and started a band, bonding over a love of indie-Appalachian folk trio Mountain Man and the songs Hughes was writing.

"I would just sing," says Jacklin. "But as I got my confidence I started playing guitar and writing songs. I wouldn't be doing music now if it wasn't for Liz or that band. I never knew it was something I could do. "

Inspired, Jacklin began educating herself. From Fiona Apple she learned to be bold with words; from Anna Calvi, the cut and presence of electric guitar; and from Angel Olsen, that interpretation triumphs over technique. Now living in a garage in Glebe and working a day job on a factory production line making essential oils, the 25-year old found time to hone her craft – to examine her turns of phrase, to observe the stretching of her friendship circles, to wonder who she was and who she might become. That document is Jacklin's masterful debut album, Don't Let The Kids Win - an intimate examination of a life still being lived.

Recorded at New Zealand's Sitting Room studios with Ben Edwards (Marlon Williams, Aldous Harding, Nadia Reid), Don't Let The Kids Win courses with the aching current of alt-country and indie-folk, augmented by Jacklin's undeniable calling cards: her rich, distinctive voice, and her playful, observational wit.

You can hear it in opener 'Pool Party', a gorgeous lilt bristling with Jacklin's tale of substance abuse by the pool; in the sparse, 'Elizabeth', wrestling with both devotion and admonishment of a friend; in detailing the slow-motion banality of a relationship breakdown in the woozy 'L.A Dreams'; and in her resolve to accept the passing of time on the snappy fuzz of 'Coming Of Age'. The album hums with peripheral insights, minute in their moments but together proving an urge to stay curious.

"I thought it was going to be a heartbreak record," says Jacklin of Don't Let The Kids Win. "But in hindsight I see it's about hitting 24 and thinking, 'What the fuck am I doing?' I was feeling very nostalgic for my youth. When I was growing up I was so ambitious: I'm going to be this amazing social worker, save the world, a great musician, fit, an amazing writer. Then you get to mid-20s and you realise you have to focus on one thing. Even if it doesn't pay-off, or you feel embarrassed at family occasions because you're the poor musician still, that's the decision I made."

In person Jacklin is funny, wry, quick to crack a joke. It makes the blunt honesty and prickly insight laced through her songwriting disarming, a dissonance she delights in. "Especially coming from my family," says Jacklin. "They don't talk about feelings at all. I love writing songs about them and watching them listen and squirm. To me that's great. I enjoy it."

The title track was the last song Jacklin wrote for the album. "My sister's getting married soon," she says of the closer. "And it hit me – we used to be two young girls and now that part of our lives is over. Seeing her talking about wanting to have a baby and…it's like, man I can't believe we're already here."

Don't mistake this awareness for nostalgia. "It's not that I want to go back to that time at all," says Jacklin. "It's trying to figure out how to be responsible when you don't identify with who you were anymore."

"All my friends at this age are freaking out. Everyone's constantly talking about being old. "Don't Let The Kids Win" is saying yeah we're getting older but it's not so special. It's not unique. Everyone has dealt with this and it's going to keep feeling weird. So I'm freaking out about it too but that song is trying to convince myself: let's live now and just be old when we're old."

"I've got a feeling that this won't ever change
We're gonna keep on getting older
It's going to keep on feeling strange"
–Don't Let The Kids Win
Venue Information:
Gasa Gasa
4920 Freret St
New Orleans, LA, 70115
http://www.gasagasa.com/