Catcall – “Satellites”

It’s probably still too early for a “Song of the Year” list (though “Best Album of 2011 – So Far” is already happening!), but if it weren’t, a sizable percentage of the Listgeeks staff would have Catcall’s breathtaking new track, “Satellites,” at the top. Sydney-based musician Catherine Kelleher has been recording as Catcall since 2007 (when she started singing over her own beats in her bedroom), though she established herself as a teen in Australia with her DIY/Punk band Kiosk. If the first few tracks (see below) from her upcoming album “The Warmest Place (out in 2012 on Ivy League Records) are any evidence, next year is going to be seriously busy for Catherine. We’re happy she took the time to answer a few of our questions and create an awesome list (be sure to check out the links to this amazing collection of artists): “Catcall’s Top 10 Australian Artists Right Now

Listgeeks: Most of your earlier tracks (and the 2008 EP) as Catcall come closer to fitting under a “lo-fi” label, but “Swimming Pool” and “Satellites,” are clearly from a different place, production-wise. How did that shift come about? Are many of the tracks on the upcoming album produced by Diamond Cut?

: I think the shift came about because of the music I started listening to after that EP came out, a lot of classic pop and disco, and also I expanded my collaborations to start working with talented guys like Youth, Diamond Cut and Gloves. That first EP was written entirely on an MPC then recorded and mixed in a bedroom. With the album I was really lucky to have a recording budget thanks to Ivy League and with all my new musical inspirations and new collaborations everything just evolved from there. Diamond Cut has worked on four of the tracks for the record with another producer called Bry Jones, and he’s awesome.

LG: What was the process like for creating the video for “Satellites”?

CC: It was a really fun shoot, we did it all in one day with a small crew in a park in Sydney called Sydney Park. The director Spod had a really simple and beautiful pitch for the track that I thought was so perfect for the song. We shot most of it in one full take over and over again, during the day then at night. It was a really fun clip – lots of incidental exercise too, walking up and down the hill haha.

Catcall – “Swimming Pool”

LG: Based on the strength of these two tracks alone, it seems likely that you’ll be spending much of 2012 on stages in clubs overseas once “The Warmest Place” hits. Who would you like to perform in a line-up with, if you were to curate an evening of your own?

CC: I’d really like to play a bill that included ESG and Chic, haha.

LG: Finally, which other artists/producers would you be most curious to collaborate with at the moment?

CC: I’d love to collaborate with The Dream some day, that would be amazing. I’d also really love to write with Joseph Mount from Metronomy, Paul Epworth and Peaches.

Catcall on Listgeeks
Catcall tumblr
Catcall Facebook

Feature #16 – Stephen Coles

Stephen Coles describes himself, with a concision and efficiency not likely to surprise his followers, as a “writer and typographer.” For the designers (and friends of good design) who have followed his prodigious contributions to the field, however, he is also an impeccable curator, a tireless educator, and an ever enthusiastic advocate for inspired, well-executed work. Whether engaging with people grappling with the complexities of typography for the first time on Quora, posting about a curious detail or quizzical aspect of something he’s come across during his travels on his blog, or adding his compelling take on a new object or typeface via one of his core projects – Typographica, Fonts in Use, or The Mid-Century Modernist – Stephen communicates his passion for the things which surround us with eloquence and empathy. Currently spending his time between Oakland and Berlin, Stephen is also a regular contributor to Print and Codex magazines, a Type Camp instructor, and a member of the FontFont TypeBoard. We’re really happy he took the time to answer our questions, and highly recommend taking a look through his Listgeeks lists after you’ve had a chance to read his responses.

Derick Rhodes/Listgeeks: Earlier this year, Mashable published an article highlighting, “8 Essential Web Typography Resources,” four of which were either created by you, or involve you in some significant way. What keeps you inspired to remain engaged (especially via so many different projects) with all things typography-related?

Stephen Coles: I think I have an unhealthy desire to correct all the typographic inaccuracies that plague the internet and hopefully that translates into something useful now and then.

LG: How did your initial interest in typography and design come about?

SC: It was when I met my first Mac. It was the ability to choose and use fonts that opened my mind to the world of typography, much in the same way that this new widespread power has introduced type to the mainstream. I explored this in a practical context when I worked as a paginator at my college newspaper, fussing over the typographic details of a daily rag rather then attending classes.

Dahl-Beck Sign, San Francisco - Photographed by Stephen Coles

LG: The emergence of web fonts (and related licensing models) has had a significant impact on the role of type in designing for the web. What’s your take on the successes and limitations of this newish way of working with type online?

SC: It’s an exciting time for typography on the web. Everything everything changed with the intro of digital DTP and now it’s like 1985 all over again. New technology, new ways to use type, and new fonts made specifically for a new medium. We’re still in early days but now that there is a standard format and successful webfont services we’re over a significant technical hump. Now it’s just a matter of making quality screen fonts and using them in interesting ways on the web and in mobile devices.

LG: What are some of your favorite examples of type used exceptionally well online?

I’ve written about most of my favorites at Fonts In Use, where you can narrow the content to just the web stuff. Beyond those, one of the best is one of the first: Jax Vineyards, who used FF DIN for their identity, echoing the modern design of their wine labels. This entire site is built with web fonts.

The companion site for the new book Explorations in Typography demonstrates what’s possible with type on the web. Using the tools in the sidebar you can play with layout, font selection, and type treatments using text from the book itself. When you need to explain the benefit of custom type or webfonts to someone who doesn’t get it, show them The New Yorker.

LG: Excluding the web font phenomenon, what do you feel has been the most exciting development related to designing for the web in the last year or two?

SC: The speed at which web designers have taken to the importance and craft of typography. A few short years ago something as simple as typeface selection wasn’t even something they had to deal with, and now, despite my own fears, there is already a widespread respect and enthusiasm for doing type right.

Portrait of Stephen Coles by Laura Serra

LG: You’re currently dividing your time between Berlin and Oakland – is travel important to shaping your perception of the role of design and typography when it comes to your projects?

SC: Definitely! Every place has a typographic dialect just as it does with speech. And besides being simply interesting, it can sometimes teach us all a thing or two. Americans can learn from the British, for example, to stop being silly with always stuffing their quotes inside punctuation. The “developed” world of the West can learn from India and Latin America that hand painted signs are almost always more interesting than plastic, backlit boxes with vinyl type.

LG: Finally, I asked this question of Erik Spiekermann in a Listgeeks feature a few months back, and I’m curious to your take: Do you feel that design, as an increasingly web-oriented activity, is in danger of becoming too uniform, internationally? In other words, is our visual sensibility merging at the expense of more local (or regional) innovation/variation that may have been prized in the past?

SC: That’s a tough question. I hope not. But I think Erik answered it perfectly.

Stephen’s Lists on Listgeeks

Stewf tumblr
Fonts in Use
The Mid-Century Modernist

Feature #15 – Christopher Owens (Girls)

Christopher Owens, half of the critically acclaimed San Francisco-based band Girls (Chet “JR” White, the other half, has handled bass playing and production since 2007) is a remarkably gifted songwriter.  His disarmingly heartfelt songs, which evoke comparison to such great American songwriters as Brian Wilson, Elliot Smith, Daniel Johnston and Cole Porter, gained the band immediate widespread recognition with the release of their first album, Album, in 2009.  The band’s new full-length, Father, Son, Holy Ghost ranges sonically from shoegaze and noise pop to the sounds of the girl groups of the 1950s/60s, channeling a heavy dose of classic rock moves along the way.  Tethered by the emotional core of Christopher’s meditations on love, loneliness, and family, the songs on Father, Son, Holy Ghost resonate with a beauty and sincerity uncommon in today’s pop landscape.  We’re grateful Christopher took the time to answer a few questions and send us what is undeniably one of the most inspiring lists we’ve received from an interviewee on Listgeeks so far: “A current to do list copied and pasted from my phone

Derick Rhodes/Listgeeks
:  I’m curious about the kinds of relationships you have with Girls fans – it feels like people would really feel that they can intensely identify with you, as a person, because of the amount of heart you put into your songs.  Do you find people who love your music want to turn to you for advice, or – conversely – want to offer you their own thoughts/advice when you meet them?

Christopher Owens: I haven’t had anyone offer any advice, thankfully. People sometimes ask for advice and if it’s on something I think I can help with then I will, but even that is rare. I do get a lot of sincere thanks and gratitude from people for not being afraid to address the things that I do, or admit the things that I do, and I hear often from people that the songs “really helped” them in different ways. It’s always genuine and it’s one of the gauges that make me feel like maybe this is working.

LG:  It seems like people are really enjoying the current configuration of the band (as an eight piece, including three back-up singers) – how does it feel different for you from the previous Girls tours?

CO: The backup singers aren’t able to tour full time right now, they have children and lives and we’re lucky to have the money to fly them in for shows in big cities or filmed performances, etc… I wish that we were an 8 piece touring band but that’s not really the case. I will say that within the band, Matt Kallman and Evan Weiss and Darren Weiss are the strongest positive force and it’s wonderful to know they’re a part of this.

Girls, live in Vancouver 10/5/11 by Mikala Taylor/

LG: My favorite song on the new album is “My Ma,” a profound and beautiful track.  It reminds me a little of the breathtaking Smog song, “Rock Bottom Riser” – I think because the sentiments are so straightforward and honest.  Do you work towards simplicity when you write songs?  What I mean is, do the songs sometimes start more complex, lyrically, and then transform into something more direct/honest over time?

CO: Never. When I find a song I take it or leave it. Lucky for me I’m not smart enough to write anything complicated.


Links: Christopher on Listgeeks
Girls on Facebook (Tour dates, videos, etc.)
Some Beautiful Portraits of Christopher by Hedi Slimane