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Vacationer

Vacationer

Sego

Tue, Jul 31, 2018

Doors: 7:30 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

$17 ADV - $20 DOOR

Tickets at the Door

This event is 21 and over

Vacationer
Vacationer
The third full-length from Vacationer, Mindset is built on delicate melodies and crystalline rhythms that seem to alter the very texture of the world around you. Ornately composed but breezy in energy, Vacationer’s warm-hearted dream-pop perfectly mirrors frontman Ken Vasoli’s intentions in making the album. “The objective was to write songs that remind me how my brain needs to operate for my own wellbeing and happiness,” Vasoli says. “That’s where the title comes from—the record’s filled with all these reminders that put me in a good mindset for the day.”

Despite its often-euphoric effect, Mindset began in frustration for Vasoli. After countless false starts on the follow-up to 2014’s Relief, the Philadelphia-based musician decided to completely upend his creative approach. While Vacationer’s previous albums came to life in close collaboration with fellow members Matthew Young and Grant Wheeler, Vasoli shifted his focus from songwriting to production and worked entirely on his own for months on end. During that time, he immersed himself in exploring the nuances of Ableton and analyzing the construction of beloved albums by artists like the Beach Boys, Barry White, and Curtis Mayfield.

“Those albums feel like the magic moments that I’m always chasing after in my own music,” says Vasoli, who co-founded Vacationer in 2010. “It’s such an unbelievable display of production and composition happening at the same time, and it inspired me to keep that integrity of ’60s and ’70s record-making while using the technology that I’d been studying.”

With his love for making music reignited, Vasoli locked in his vision for Mindset upon penning a song called “Entrance”: a lush and luminous track that opens the album with swirling harp arpeggios and shimmering synth. On “Magnetism,” Vacationer maintains that dreamy mood and reveals the band’s newly embraced experimental sensibilities with its gently dizzying arrangement. Described by Vasoli as “a love record in every sense of the word,” Mindset also delivers a valentine to his dog Waldo with “Strawberry Blonde,” an uptempo serenade infused with sweetly guileless storytelling. And on the sublimely hazy “Being Here,” Vacationer matches flashes of psychedelia with softly instructive lyrics capturing the message at the heart of the album (“Seeing the trees for the leaves/And all the grass for the weeds/Going to sleep for the dreams”).

When it came time to sculpt Mindset’s elaborate yet unfussy soundscape, Vacationer paired up with producer Daniel Schlett (selected for his ambitious and masterful work on Ghostface Killah’s 36 Seasons). “I was talking to Daniel about that Ghostface record and how I couldn’t believe there were no samples on it, and he just looked me and said, ‘Oh—you wanna use the studio as an MPC,’” recalls Vasoli, referring to MPCs as “the classic stand-alone sampler and gold standard in beat-making.” Working at Schlett’s Brooklyn studio Strange Weather, Vacationer enlisted a cadre of world-class musicians to offer their interpretations of Vasoli’s demos. “I can only imagine how it felt for Brian Wilson to make Pet Sounds, and I’m not comparing the experiences at all, but I got a taste for what it’s like to see your ideas played out by people with some amazing abilities,” Vasoli says. Once they’d completed those recordings, Vasoli and Schlett assembled the album by merging elements of the live performances with the electronically crafted material from Vasoli’s home studio. “We dismantled everything, then chose what we wanted to use from different sessions,” says Vasoli. “We had a total blast sampling the players, sampling ourselves, and deciding what to leave raw.”

At the end of the years-long process of creating Mindset, Vasoli found himself more self-assured in his artistry. “I used to always feel like I was in over my head, but now I feel so much more empowered to take my ideas and get them down on tape in a way that’s true to what I hear in my mind,” he says. Not only key in shaping the album’s distinct and elegant sound, that sense of self-possession ultimately reflects the essence of Mindset. “A lot of this record is about experiencing things as they happen, and not giving into the pressure of anxiety and depression—especially since those things are so easy to creep up on you,” says Vasoli. “That was a big struggle for me to get out of in the early stages of this album, but then the music I was working on ended up being my solution. My hope is that it works the same way for anyone who hears it.”
Sego
Sego is rhythm distilled and pure. The Los Angeles-by-way-of-Provo duo of Spencer Petersen and Thomas Carroll churn out percolating and pummeling beats that coalesce into persistent, spastic grooves that are just as jittery as they are danceable. Once Was Lost Now Just Hanging Around, their debut album (out March 4, 2015 in North America and May 6 in UK/Europe), introduces them as a band turned inside out, the rhythm section taking lead, while the guitars and keyboards add jaded, jagged texture. It's the sound of postmillennial city life
chronicled by two millennials from rural Utah: '80s kids updating those sounds to the '10s and in the process rendering the familiar fresh and unfamiliar.
Spencer and Tom operate out of what they call the Cube, a warehouse in
downtown L.A. that's part industrial-park facility, part urban hippie commune. "It's in this weird industrial wasteland downtown," says Spencer. "We share a perimeter with the UPS trucking yard and a cement factory." They are upstairs in
the loft with a few other bands as roommates; downstairs is for storing gear, rehearsing, recording, and hosting the occasional concert or party.
The Cube is the locus for a small community of like-minded musicians. "Everybody's on the same page here," says Spencer. "We're all trying to
accomplish similar things, so we're all contributing to each other's projects and
helping each other out. If you need art direction or a second opinion on a riff or whatever, someone's always got your back." But it also breeds some friendly competition, motivating each musician to do his or her best work.
It was here in the Cube that Spencer wrote and recorded most of the tracks on Once Was Lost Now Just Hanging Around and the previously released EPs Long Long Way From the Fringe (Dine Alone) and Wicket Youth (Kitsune). He locked himself up in the studio and painstakingly assembled the recordings,
often starting with drum tracks and slowing building songs up from there. "When
you start with drums, the beat naturally becomes a little more wonky, because there is all that space you have to fill. That makes it much more interesting to me. Whereas if there are all these vocals and guitars and whatever, the drumbeat is
going to get in the way if you get too complicated."
The rhythms that propel these songs are more than just dance tracks, but
something closer to musical manifestations of Spencer's own skewed sense of
alienation and skewed sense of self.
"I started writing songs with the intent of having someone else sing them, mostly just snippets in a notebook," says Spencer, who has always played a sideman role in previous projects. "But other singers weren't panning out, so I
guess it was up to me. This is my first attempt as a singer, which is a whole different scene. I was surprised by how personal it is in both the writing and the
performing. I'm not Springsteening it and writing about these characters. It's my
life."
That life provides some rich material. Even as Spencer and Tom have moved far away from their home state–settling in Southern California, working with famed French label Kitsuné, and signing with Toronto-based Dine Alone Records–Utah continues to define them as musicians. As a kid in a small town called Springville, Tom took to the drums as though keeping time was the family business. His grandfather is a Civil War re-enactor who plays in a fife-and-drum corps, and his father, uncles, and brothers all pound the skins in various projects.
Growing up in Mapleton, a town of about 8,000 in the north-central end of the state, Spencer's interest in rock music started early. "My buddy and I had this
pact in fifth grade. Since we were both going to be in a rock band one day, we figured one of us should join the school band to learn drums and the other should join the orchestra and play bass. We flipped a coin, and he got drums." Spencer
studied symphonic bass throughout high school and college, yet his interests remained much broader; in addition to avant-garde composers like Bartók and Schoenberg, he was fascinated by what he calls "rough-edged non-guitarists"
like Gordon Gano of Violent Femmes and Bernard Sumner of New Order.
The pair cut their teeth in Provo's lively DIY indie-rock scene, playing together in a breakout act called Elizabethan Report (later known as Eyes Lips
Eyes). "I pump the Provo music scenewherever I go," says Spencer. "There are so many crazy bands that came out of there. It was so influential for both of us."
After their band relocated to Los Angeles, signed to a label, recorded a debut, and then unceremoniously disbanded before seeing it released, Spencer and Tom stuck around the Golden State and kept making music together. The name Sego seemed fitting for their new project, as it refers to both the Utah state flower and to the short-lived Sego Music and Art Festival, "a crazy little showcase for the scene in Provo. You anchor yourself in that kind of identity. Maybe I'm sentimental, but I feel like that festival has a lot of significance for me."
Spencer and Tom divide their time between Los Angeles and Utah, tracking parts of Once Was Lost Now Just Hanging Around in the Provo basement of their producer, Nate Pyfer. That sense of displacement adds crackle
to the album's rhythms and riffs as well as emotional heft to Spencer's candid lyrics. "There's a certain amount of exploration in these songs, a sense of finding your own way," he says, by way of explaining the Sego ethos. "You end up places you never thought you'd find."
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