An Interview With UPSET

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We recently had a somewhat impromptu chat with Jennifer Prince, the guitarist in Upset, a female punk rock trio headed by Ali Kohler (ex-Vivian Girl and Best Coast drummer) and Patty Schemel (formerly the drummer of Hole) over the phone. She was at work, I was too.

We discussed the new record (out on Don Giovanni now), how regionalism is what you make of it, and what tacos trucks in LA leave her demanding more.

rara: How’s your day going, Jenn?

Jenn: Pretty good. Pretty chill. I’m just at work. I work an office job when I’m not doing band stuff, so…

rara: Yeah. That’s understandable. Speaking of band stuff, I noticed you guys are going on tour soon. Are you really excited about that?

Jenn: Yeah, we’re really excited. We’re going to be touring with Screaming Females. We’re gonna be starting in Seattle. And then we’re going to head down the West Coast to San Diego. I’m really excited. We’re gonna have Rachel Haden of That Dog filling in on bass for us, which should be really cool.

rara: That is really cool. Sounds like a classic West Coast tour. Do you guys identify as a West Coast band?

Jenn: I mean, I guess. It’s funny because actually Ali and are both originally from the East Coast. But I’ve been out here for a long time. And we live in L.A., so I guess so. But we’re on a East Coast label [Don Giovanni] at the same time, so I don’t know if I really feel that. I guess we kind of fit in the paradigm of what’s going on with music right now. I don’t know if it’s specific to a region or not.

rara: Where in Los Angeles are you guys based?

Jenn: We all live on the East Side. I live in Highland Park and Ali lives in that area as well. And Patty lives over in Silverlake.

rara: Speaking of. You probably hear this all the time, but what is it like working with Patty Schemel [ex-Hole drummer]? Is it intimidating at all ever?

Jenn: To be honest, she’s really amazing. The first time we all met up I was a little nervous, but she just puts you right at ease. The sense of humour is so fantastic, and we’re all just totally friends. We all kind of gossip at practice and talk about comedy and stuff like that.

rara: I can imagine. I saw the documentary “Hit So Hard” about her life and she really just seems like the coolest person. I was really enamoured by her.

Jenn: She’s just super amazing and really inspiring and fun to be around.

rara: I know a lot has been written about Patty Schemel’s influence, and Ali Koehler’s previous bands and influences on the album, but what are some of your major influences when it comes your guitar style? Who inspired you to pick up a guitar?

Jenn: I’ve kind of been the record nerd. I listen to every type of genre of music, you know? I really love old Hardcore Punk. I think that was my biggest guitar influence on the record. Band like Dag Nasty and stuff. I also listen to a lot of old country and all types of weird stuff. All the classics. But mostly old punk. I guess that’s my biggest influence.

rara: And Don Giovanni is definitely a big player in the early 2000’s punk revival…

Jenn: Yeah, I mean. I love a lot of the 80’s inspired stuff. I think the band that probably inspired me to want to start playing guitar were Annihilation Time!, which was this great thrash punk band that was around in the early 2000s. Graham Clise played guitar for that band. He also plays in that band Witch and Lecherous Gaze. Yeah, he’s really cool. I like that kind of style. I can’t quite play like that, but it made me want to try and go there.

rara: I think there are some pretty heavy guitar riffs on the album. I could definitely hear the hardcore influence.

Jenn: Yeah, there definitely there.

rara: I lived in Los Angeles briefly, so I have to ask, where’s your favourite taco stand?

Jenn: I really like La Estrella Tacos in Highland Park. Rambo’s Tacos is pretty good. And there’s this taco truck outside of the Cha Cha Lounge called the Lunch Box that I love.

rara: I used to live right by Rambo Taco so that was my midnight spot many times.

Jenn: Aren’t they the best? I love that the trucks have Twitter now and you can figure out where they are and just kinda stalk them and be like “Where’s my taco!”

rara: So what are some of your favourite bands at the moment. Is there anyone you think is really great and want to go out and like support all their stuff?

Jenn: Right now I’m actually really into that Jessica Pratt record. Have you heard it?

rara: No actually, not yet.

Jenn: It’s totally not the kind of music we make, but I’m really into it. She’s kind of like contemporary folk stuff, but indie still. And it’s really great. I’m really into that. I really like all my friend’s bands, like the Dream Boys and Wet Illustrated and Exploding Flowers.  Just a lot of L.A. bands that I like to go out and see. The new Audacity is really good. All the Burger Records bands, Blank Tapes. I really like to go out and see shows, so just bands that are playing out right now.

rara: Yeah, there’s a pretty strong scene in Southern California around Burger Records and those guys at the moment.

Jenn: Yeah. I could talk about that forever so I won’t ramble. But those are the people that inspire me. It’s silly cause they’re your friends, but when you actually see someone you know that’s doing something you think is special, it’s really cool.

rara: I think the cover of the album, which has three young girls dressed like Daniel Clowes style superheroes, is pretty cool, so I have to ask, what super power would you choose, if any?

Jenn: I’d want to be able to fly. That would be cool. Save on plane tickets.

rara: What’s your favourite part of the new record?

Jenn: I’m really proud of the track “Phone Calls.” I think that one came out really cool. I mean, I think they’re all great. I think what we did was really cool. We recorded the record in like a week and so I think we’re all really happy with the way it came out. But “Phone Calls” was really fun for me because it was the first time I really let loose and kind of made up everything on the spot as far as the guitar overlays. I really like that track a lot.

rara: It sounds like you guys have a really great synergy at the moment when you play.

Jenn: Yeah, it’s fantastic. We all feel really good playing together. Just really validated. There’s no drama or weirdness. Practice is something to look forward to, which is fun.

rara: And so, what are the plans for the future. Tour, and then any other big things coming up for Upset?

Jenn: We have some stuff in the works, but nothing too firm yet. But I think we’ll be doing some touring next year, which will be cool and we’re really excited about that.

We’d like to thank Jenn very much for her time and all the best for next year’s tour and that we love the album very much indeed – which you can access by clicking on the picture at the top of the post or by clicking here to listen to in HQ.

Check out Pitchfork’s review of the album by clicking here.

rara announces Toshiba partnership, 320kbps Dolby Pulse high quality audio and service enhancements

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  • rara preloaded onto millions of Toshiba Windows 8 PCs and tablets across Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong
  • Dolby Pulse 320kbps high quality audio streaming introduced
  • Redesigned Android app launched
  • 2 million tracks licensed from independent label CD Baby; rara catalogue expanded to over 22 million tracks
  • New rara web, iPhone, iPad and Windows 8 apps features launched including Facebook log-in and in-app playlist creation 

11th October 2013, London – Music streaming service rara today announces a partnership with Toshiba that will see the rara Windows 8 music app pre-loaded on millions of Toshiba PCs and tablets across Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong. rara also announces a raft of upgrades to its music apps including the introduction of Dolby Pulse 320kbps high quality audio streaming, an expanded music catalogue of 22 million tracks and a licensing deal with independent label CD Baby.

“The addition of high quality HD audio from Dolby Pulse, enhanced apps and more great music from CD Baby is part of our ongoing programme of updates, making it easier to enjoy the music you love seamlessly across all your devices with rara,” said rara CEO Jez Bell.  “Our partnership with Toshiba brings rara’s innovative Windows 8 app to millions of Toshiba PC users across Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand.”

Toshiba APAC partnership

rara has signed a music partnership deal with Toshiba to preload the rara app onto millions of Toshiba Windows 8 laptops, tablets and convertibles including Toshiba Satellite, Tecra, All-in-One PC (AIO), Portégé, Satellite Pro, Qosmio devices in Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong.  rara will have prime positioning on Toshiba Windows 8 devices.

Toshiba is the third PC manufacturer to partner with rara for music streaming.  HP and Lenovo partnerships were launched in December 2011 and October 2012 respectively.

Android app

rara’s Android app has been completely redesigned for Android’s Ice Cream Sandwich and Jellybean operating system. With its new tile-based interface, the rara Android app makes discovering new music as simple as answering a call. An app update with high quality audio will follow in the coming weeks.

Dolby high quality audio streaming

rara’s music streaming app today introduces high quality audio streaming using Dolby Pulse at a bitrate of 320kbps. 

“At 320kbps, rara delivers superior sound quality; Dolby Pulse is the best format for music streaming as it uses extremely efficient encoding algorithms to convey more of the artists’ original studio recording,” continued Bell. 

rara.com

The updated rara.com music streaming service for web browsers now features high quality audio streaming.

iOS app

Updated rara iPhone and iPad apps now include in-app playlist creation, high quality audio streaming and support for iOS7.  rara’s iOS apps store your music on device so that you can listen even when offline with users able to select audio quality preferences and music storage limits in-app.

Windows 8 app

Windows 8 users can now try out rara before signing up in ‘Preview mode’ which provides access to the app with 30 second track previews.

As well as high quality audio, the latest rara Windows 8 app makes it easier than ever to build and manage your music experience with full drag-and-drop playlist creation and editing. Enhanced use of Windows 8 swipe features give easy access to rara playlist and play queue functions from Windows 8 App and Charms bars.

22 million tracks

rara now has an international music catalogue of over 22 million tracks available to stream on-demand having licensed 2 million tracks from independent label aggregator CD Baby.

“rara users around the world now have access to the millions of tracks provided by tens of thousands of artists who use CD Baby to distribute their music,” said CD Baby President Brian Felsen.  “CD Baby brings a wide range of repertoire to the rara catalogue including albums from artists ranging from hip-hop sensation Macklemore to indie-pop chanteuse Ingrid Michaelson.”

Feature enhancements

rara users in all 32 countries can now log in with Facebook and enjoy high quality audio streaming on the rara.com website and mobile apps.  Users can also pay with Paypal in 12 countries; UK, Canada, Hong Kong, France, Sweden, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Norway.

‘Closed’ – A Compendium of Sinead O’Connor’s Open Letters to Miley Cyrus

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Now that nudity in music is now suddenly a hot-topic across various music publications and pretty much everyone’s Twitter feeds – the raging inferno of Miley Cyrus’ pre-album PR inferno is reaching it’s terrifying peak/optimum temperature. And that peak comes in the form of ‘open letters’ from Sinead O’Connor and, to a lesser extent, Amanda Palmer.

But I fear that this isn’t the end of the line – open letters are often contagious, they’re platforms which (sometimes) act as ways of people getting a bit of attention off the back of some attention which other people got by taking a (sort of) paternal/maternal high road against something which is designed to divide people in the first place.

It’s not my place to really take sides here – just to show the facts and let you decide on whether or not either is right – and here the facts are in all their glory – the compendium of Sinead O’Connor’s  open (why open? why not just write?) letters to Miley Cyrus:

The first letter:

Dear Miley,

I wasn’t going to write this letter, but today i’ve been dodging phone calls from various newspapers who wished me to remark upon your having said in Rolling Stone your “Wrecking Ball” video was designed to be similar to the one for “Nothing Compares” … So this is what I need to say … And it is said in the spirit of motherliness and with love.

I am extremely concerned for you that those around you have led you to believe, or encouraged you in your own belief, that it is in any way “cool” to be naked and licking sledgehammers in your videos. It is in fact the case that you will obscure your talent by allowing yourself to be pimped, whether it’s the music business or yourself doing the pimping.

Nothing but harm will come in the long run, from allowing yourself to be exploited, and it is absolutely NOT in ANY way an empowerment of yourself or any other young women, for you to send across the message that you are to be valued (even by you) more for your sexual appeal than your obvious talent.

I am happy to hear I am somewhat of a role model for you and I hope that because of that you will pay close attention to what I am telling you.

The music business doesn’t give a sh– about you, or any of us. They will prostitute you for all you are worth, and cleverly make you think its what YOU wanted.. and when you end up in rehab as a result of being prostituted, “they” will be sunning themselves on their yachts in Antigua, which they bought by selling your body and you will find yourself very alone.

None of the men oggling you give a sh– about you either, do not be fooled. Many’s the woman mistook lust for love. If they want you sexually that doesn’t mean they give a f— about you. All the more true when you unwittingly give the impression you don’t give much of a f— about yourself. And when you employ people who give the impression they don’t give much of a f— about you either. No one who cares about you could support your being pimped.. and that includes you yourself.

Yes, I’m suggesting you don’t care for yourself. That has to change. You ought be protected as a precious young lady by anyone in your employ and anyone around you, including you. This is a dangerous world. We don’t encourage our daughters to walk around naked in it because it makes them prey for animals and less than animals, a distressing majority of whom work in the music industry and its associated media.

You are worth more than your body or your sexual appeal. The world of showbiz doesn’t see things that way, they like things to be seen the other way, whether they are magazines who want you on their cover, or whatever.. Don’t be under any illusions.. ALL of them want you because they’re making money off your youth and your beauty.. which they could not do except for the fact your youth makes you blind to the evils of show business. If you have an innocent heart you can’t recognise those who do not.

I repeat, you have enough talent that you don’t need to let the music business make a prostitute of you. You shouldn’t let them make a fool of you either. Don’t think for a moment that any of them give a flying f— about you. They’re there for the money.. we’re there for the music. It has always been that way and it will always be that way. The sooner a young lady gets to know that, the sooner she can be REALLY in control.

You also said in Rolling Stone that your look is based on mine. The look I chose, I chose on purpose at a time when my record company were encouraging me to do what you have done. I felt I would rather be judged on my talent and not my looks. I am happy that I made that choice, not least because I do not find myself on the proverbial rag heap now that I am almost 47 yrs of age.. which unfortunately many female artists who have based their image around their sexuality, end up on when they reach middle age.

Real empowerment of yourself as a woman would be to in future refuse to exploit your body or your sexuality in order for men to make money from you. I needn’t even ask the question.. I’ve been in the business long enough to know that men are making more money than you are from you getting naked. It’s really not at all cool. And it’s sending dangerous signals to other young women. Please in future say no when you are asked to prostitute yourself. Your body is for you and your boyfriend. It isn’t for every spunk-spewing dirtbag on the net, or every greedy record company executive to buy his mistresses diamonds with.

As for the shedding of the Hannah Montana image.. whoever is telling you getting naked is the way to do that does absolutely NOT respect your talent, or you as a young lady. Your records are good enough for you not to need any shedding of Hannah Montana. She’s waaaaaaay gone by now.. Not because you got naked but because you make great records.
Whether we like it or not, us females in the industry are role models and as such we have to be extremely careful what messages we send to other women. The message you keep sending is that it’s somehow cool to be prostituted.. it’s so not cool Miley.. it’s dangerous.

Women are to be valued for so much more than their sexuality. we aren’t merely objects of desire. I would be encouraging you to send healthier messages to your peers.. that they and you are worth more than what is currently going on in your career. Kindly fire any motherf—er who hasn’t expressed alarm, because they don’t care about you.

The Second Letter:

Miley… Really? Who the fuck is advising you? Because taking me on is even more fuckin’ stupid than behaving like a prostitute and calling it feminism. You have posted today tweets of mine which are two years old, which were posted by me when I was unwell and seeking help so as to make them look like they are recent. In doing so you mock myself and Amanda Bynes for having suffered with mental health issues and for having sought help.
I mean really really… who advises you? have you any idea how stupid and dangerous it is to mock people for suffering illness? You will yourself one day suffer such illness, that is without doubt. The course you have set yourself upon can only end in that, trust me.
I am staggered that any 20 yr old woman of the 21st century could behave in such a dangerous and irresponsible manner as to not only send the signal to young women that its ok to act like prostitutes but also to the signal that those who have suffered or do suffer mental health problems are to be mocked and have their opinions invalidated. Have you no sense of danger at all? or responsibility? Remove your tweets immediately or you will hear from my lawyers. I am certain you will be hearing from all manner of mental health advocacy groups also. It is not acceptable to mock any person for having suffered.
It is most unbecoming of you to respond in such a fashion to someone who expressed care for you. And worse that you are such an anti-female tool of the anti-female music industry. I hope that you will apologise to Amanda Bynes and to any person who has been wounded by your mockery of those who have suffered. And I hope that you will wake up and understand that you in fact are a danger to women.
Furthermore you posted a photo of me tearing the pope’s photo .. as if to imply insanity.. by doing so all you have achieved is to expose your staggering ignorance. I suggest you read The Philadelphia Report, The Boston Report, all the reports which will illuminate for you why that action of mine remains sane and valid. By mocking it you mock every child who suffered sexual abuse at the hands of priests and had it covered by the Vatican. You could really do with educating yourself, that is if you’re not too busy getting your tits out to read.

And finally (hopefully) the third letter:

Miley

I have no interest whatsoever in meeting you. You had plenty of time yesterday to abuse Amanda Bynes .. an entirely innocent party.. and myself.. who also did nothing to deserve your abuse.. along with every other sufferer of mental health problems and every person who suffered abuse at the hands of priests. 
You can take five minutes today between g- string fuckin’ changes to publicly apologise and remove your abusive tweets. If you do not then you don’t give a shit who you mock and what damage you do by being so ignorant. 
When you publicly apologise to Amanda and myself and all mental health sufferers as well as all who were abused by priests that will end the matter as far as I am concerned.
what you did yesterday was designed to damage me and my career and has caused me enormous distress and harassment and has potential to damage my career, since you deliberately gave the impression those tweets of mine were not two years old but reflect my current condition. If you cannot apologize I will have no choice but to bring legal proceedings against you since it is extremely hard to be given work when people think one is suffering from mental illness. 
I have no interest in or desire to cause you trouble but if you do not apologise for having deliberately tried to cause me hurt and trouble personally and professionally I will have to bring pressure upon you. 
When you end up in the psych ward or rehab I’ll be happy to visit you.. and would not lower myself to mock you. 
Be a proper woman and make the public apologies I have listed above. Your hosting SNL is a bullshit reason for not taking five minutes to do the right thing and your behaviour yesterday will rebound upon you very badly. 
You have no business abusing Amanda Bynes or anyone else. How do you think you made her feel yesterday? How do you feel when your friend Britney Spears is mocked and humiliated for having had mental health problems? I know I personally want to bash those who treat her that way. If she is your friend and more importantly if you are a true friend to her.. you ought apologise for joining those who mock and humiliate women who have been too nice frankly, to manage the music business without sensibly losing their minds.
Cease behaving in an anti-female capacity. You will become the victim of it shortly. Soon it will be you the media ‘crazy’ .. and you will not enjoy it.. and you will appreciate people (like myself) standing up for you. Which I will be happy to do.. if you earn my respect today by apologising publicly.