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Mike Shinoda on writing an album on Twitch, 20 years of ‘Hybrid Theory’ and Chester Bennington’s voice

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“My livestreaming thing and the music that’s come from it have really helped me to stay sane through this whole thing,” Mike Shinoda tells NME of how passing time on Twitch in lockdown led to his latest ambitious solo album, ‘Dropped Frames Vol. 1‘.

Having taken suggestions and feedback on the direction of the music from fans who tuned into his Twitch livestreams, the Linkin Park musician ended up creating a project based on pure collaboration. It’s a piece of work that’s “just as much about the live channel as it is about the ‘album‘”. After originally asking fans to guide him through the best way to finish off some demos on Instagram, he soon found himself asking them to submit vocals for the track ‘Open Door’, before taking to Twitch each and every morning to work with his followers on a constant flow of music.

“There are a number of different things that I get out of it,” says Shinoda. “It’s a nice anchor for my day and my week – in that I can tell what time and what day it is, which isn’t easy in lockdown! I can make so much cool stuff.”

We were about to say that it beats wasting hours on Animal Crossing, but even that made its way into the record somehow. To celebrate the release of ‘Dropped Frames Vol. 1’ this week, we Facetimed Shinoda for a quick chat about people power, listening habits, the upcoming 20th anniversary of Linkin Park’s seminal debut ‘Hybrid Theory’, and the recent release from Chester Bennington’s former band Grey Daze.

Tell us about your fans’ contribution to this record

“We came up with a way to do fan recommendations where they challenge me. They earn points through watching the channel, then they can redeem them with things like choosing the style of the song from what we call ‘The Bowl Of Destiny’. I’ll pick out more than one style, like mashing up a Red Hot Chili Peppers-style song, a Prince/Morris Day And The Time-style song, and the sound of a wombat. Or something crazy like Final Fantasy style video game music, mixed with horror hip-hop, Mariachi and N-Sync early ‘00s pop.”

Does it always work out?

“Some days I’ll be at odds with what the fans want to do. Sometimes there’s a friction, and sometimes that makes it worse and sometimes that makes it better. It’s OK that some of these experiments fail. The last song on this album is a joke. It’s called ‘Booty Down’ and it has these vocal samples in it. The fans challenged me to make a song in the style of Panic! At The Disco. I tried, I hated it, it was boring, it was stupid, so I basically said, ‘This is a failed experiment and we need to do something else to clear our palette’. I started jokingly picking through these vocal samples called ‘Booty Up’ and ‘Booty Down’, so I made a Miami bass dance track out of it.”

Mike Shinoda
Mike Shinoda (Picture: Press)

How would you describe the overall vibe and feel of music you made together?

“It’s spontaneous. A lot of the time with music I feel like I channel what’s happening in the moment. This stuff sonically comes from when it’s being created. We archived all of the Twitch episodes on Youtube so you can go back and see where it came from. I know that when the Black Lives Matter protests were starting, the track we made that day was sombre and soulful. It was sonically appropriate for the kind of day that it was. That track didn’t make it onto this album, but it will be on a future volume.

You said that ‘Post Traumatic’ was like a diary of the dark times dealing with the death of Chester. Does this album feel like a diary of your lockdown months?

“Maybe! When I was in college I listened to a lot of instrumental music like DJ Shadow’s first couple of albums, Aphex Twin, UNKLE, Massive Attack. I love records by J Dilla, Flume and Flying Lotus. There’s a poetry to putting music out with no words. I like that, I’ve never done that with my whole focus. It’s a lot of fun.”

So we can expect some surprising and weird sounds?

“Yeah, I love that. Once in a while on my stream, I’ll play Animal Crossing. It’s relaxing, like meditation. The fans and I named my turtle, it was nice. The mayor of your island on Animal Crossing is a guy called Tom Nook. All the voices are very similar and weird, and I found a plug-in on my keyboard where it will play Tom Nook vocal sounds. The fans still ask for it every day.”

Were you working on the follow-up to ‘Post Traumatic’ before this project took hold?

“I was working on really random stuff. I still am, because I’m a little slower in quarantine. There’s a song for myself here, a song for someone else there. I’m still experimenting and trying to figure out what I’m trying to do next. I feel like I’m going down 20 different roads at once. If there’s ever anything to talk about, I’ll talk about it on my stream.”

You recently did a great remix for Renforshort. What led you to work with her?

“It’s really fun to work with new artists because of the variety that it brings into the creative situation. She’s super young, but knows what she’s doing with her music. This would be the moment where she throws in a self-deprecating comment, but my instinct is that she’s got a tonne of raw talent and I’d love to see where she takes that. The biggest challenge for any artist in her position is to really unlock her voice and a unique way to communicate their intention. I’ve been listening to her a lot.”

It was recently revealed that Linkin Park had unheard tracks featuring Chester. Have you spent much time in recent years going through the vaults?

“No, I haven’t. For every record I’ve done, there are tracks in varying degrees of completion with vocals on them. Releasing them isn’t on the schedule.”

Linkin Park new music
Linkin Park perform live. CREDIT: Getty

You also recently shared unseen gig footage from 2001. Can fans expect from archive gig stuff?

“We’re all aware that this year is the 20th anniversary of ‘Hybrid Theory’, so we’re planning to do something for that. I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll just leave it there.”

Chester’s former Grey Daze recently released the album ‘Amends‘ featuring his vocals. Was that a surreal experience, being outside of the project?

“I haven’t heard it. They did it on their own. I can’t listen to it. I don’t want to hear his voice. It’s hard enough for me to listen to Linkin Park albums. It has to be on the right day. I did watch some of his son Jaime’s video, though. I got through two minutes of it before it became a little too much for me.”

What else have you been listening to during lockdown?

“Everything! Griselda, Hayley Williams, Joji, Denzel Curry, Caribou, Jay Electronica, Renforshort, Jessie Reyez, RAC, 99 Neighbors, the new Jack Garratt, Run The Jewels, that Trash Talk record that Kenny Beats produced. There’s so much good new music.”

Mike Shinoda releases ‘Dropped Frames Vol. 1’ on Friday July 10.

The post Mike Shinoda on writing an album on Twitch, 20 years of ‘Hybrid Theory’ and Chester Bennington’s voice appeared first on NME Music News, Reviews, Videos, Galleries, Tickets and Blogs | NME.COM.

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System Of A Down’s Shavo Odadjian shares debut track from new band North Kingsley

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North Kingsley

System Of A Down’s Shavo Odadjian has shared the debut track from his new band, North Kingsley.

Alongside the bassist, songwriter and director, the group features producer Saro Paparian and lyricist and vocalist Ray Hawthorne.

North Kingsley released their first song, ‘Like That?’, earlier today (August 7). “Are you gonna die like that?” they ask on the chorus. “Fade away until you snap/Are you gonna die like that?” Watch a lyric video for the track below now.

 

The track will feature on the band’s first three-track collection, which is titled ‘Vol. 1’ and will be released next week (August 14) on Odadjian’s own 22 Red Media.

In a press release, Odadjian said: “We’re giving you songs you can marinade on, instead of 12 songs all at once. There’s going to be a clip for every song, something visually for you to vibe on. I directed videos for System, I do stage production visuals for the band so that’s important to me.

“Saro has an incredible eye for creating new things visually and I act almost how a producer would on that and we are going to drop merch with every release, so it’s more than just music.”

He continued to say that North Kingsley’s sound is “right in the middle” of metal and hip-hop. “The kick and the hi-hats and the snare sounds punk,” he added. “To me punk rock isn’t a style of music, it’s something you live. It’s a lifestyle and it means going against the grain and I heard that there, and we are putting it all together to create something exciting and new for today.”

Meanwhile, System Of A Down’s drummer John Dolmayan said in June that the band were “very unlikely to make new music”.

“There’s egos involved and, quite frankly, wisdom isn’t always something you achieve in older age – sometimes you achieve stubbornness, and we just can’t get out of our own way on that one,” he said. “But I would like to say that it is a band issue. I know that certain members of my band have been blamed in the past, but at the end of the day it takes four people to make the music we make and it takes four people not to make it.”

However, the band are planning to play live next year. This week, they were announced as one of the headliners for Download 2021 alongside Kiss and Biffy Clyro.

The post System Of A Down’s Shavo Odadjian shares debut track from new band North Kingsley appeared first on NME Music News, Reviews, Videos, Galleries, Tickets and Blogs | NME.COM.

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Watch Bob Vylan’s strobe-heavy new video for ‘England’s Ending’

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Bob Vylan

Bob Vylan have shared a new video for their track ‘England’s Ending’ – scroll down the page to watch it now.

The song appears on the duo’s EP ‘We Live Here’, which was released on June 5, 2020 and follows 2019’s ‘Dread’.

In a video on Instagram, frontman Bobby Vylan explained the song was about “the privatisation of the NHS and the inaccessibility of affordable housing”, among other topics.

 

“It talks about the hustling mentality of people in this country, having to work multiple jobs just to survive, having to have side-hustles,” he explained. “Being trapped on this hamster wheel with this promise that ‘Everything’s sorted, don’t worry, everything’s going to be fine, you just stay on this hamster wheel and eventually you’ll get somewhere’ and then growing frustrated with that and being on that wheel and realising, ‘Fuck, I’m not getting anywhere’. I think so many people feel like that.”

He added: “It just seems like the country is ending. You wake up and you read the news and it just seems like, ‘Rah, England is ending’.”

The country is in dire need of a fucking spanking, mate,” Bobby Vylan says at the start of the track. “A good overhaul – get the fucking dinosaurs out.” Watch the strobe-heavy video for ‘England’s Ending’ above now.

Earlier this year, Bob Vylan said they had been told by multiple music industry figures that ‘We Live Here’ was “too extreme”. Speaking to NME, frontman Vylan explained the opposition they had faced.

“If I was to meet this much resistance doing anything else and something that wasn’t so based around social commentary, then I don’t know if I would continue,” he said. “Because I’d start to think maybe that what I’m doing is wrong.”

He continued: “We were told by one PR agency that they wouldn’t work with the song because of the track ‘Pulled Pork’. In their opinion, it encouraged violence against the police, and whether it does or does not is up to the listener.

“But they were adamant that there were only a ‘few bad apples in the force’ – but that negates the fact that the whole system is built on racism and oppression. If there are only a few bad apples, where are the good apples? If they’re stood by watching, then they’re not good apples.”

The post Watch Bob Vylan’s strobe-heavy new video for ‘England’s Ending’ appeared first on NME Music News, Reviews, Videos, Galleries, Tickets and Blogs | NME.COM.

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Live Nation CEO says 2021 will see a “robust outdoor summer season” for live music

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Download Festival 2019

The CEO of Live Nation has said he expects a “robust outdoor summer season” for live music next year.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced festivals around the world to cancel their 2020 editions, with fears over their futures if they can’t safely return in 2021.

Writing in a memo shared with the promotion company’s investors, Michael Rapino said there were positive signs for next year’s summer events already. “Importantly, we remain confident that fans will return to live events when it is safe to do so,” he wrote. “Our strongest indicator of demand is that fans are holding on to their tickets, even when given the option of a refund.”

Latitude Festival
Latitude Festival (Picture: Getty / Dave J. Hogan)

The message stated that “86 percent” of fans were holding on to their tickets for shows that had been rescheduled, “demonstrating their continued desire to attend concerts in the future despite the current uncertainty”.

Rapino also pointed to the ticket sales for two UK festivals next year as further indicators of a strong 2021 festival run. “Our expectations for a robust outdoor summer season in 2021 are also reinforced by the two-thirds of fans keeping their tickets for canceled festivals so they can go to next year’s show, along with strong early ticket sales for festivals in the UK next summer,” he said. “For example, Download and Isle of Wight are pacing well ahead of last year.”

The Live Nation boss’ comments come after other industry figures have been more cautious about live music’s return. Last month (July 17), Lollapalooza co-founder Marc Geiger said he didn’t think gigs and festivals would return until 2022.

“It’s going to take that long before, what I call, the germaphobic economy is slowly killed off and replaced by the claustrophobia economy – that’s when people want to get out and go out to dinner and have their lives, go to festivals and shows,” he said.

Meanwhile, UK festivals welcomed the news last month (July 29) that the government would give the emergency funding to help weather the storm of the coronavirus pandemic.

The post Live Nation CEO says 2021 will see a “robust outdoor summer season” for live music appeared first on NME Music News, Reviews, Videos, Galleries, Tickets and Blogs | NME.COM.

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