Naked Kids, aside from being a phrase you probably shouldn’t Google, ever, is the garage rock sensation of the summer. It’s official, I’m calling it now. In your face, other garage bands! Their electrifying debut record Fresh Meat is the scintillating soundtrack to a hazy day at the beach, cruising on your beach cruiser– or a humid night at The Smell stumbling florid-faced around a mosh pit with the raddest 15 year olds punks ever.
My friend (and occasional leather bar wingman) Nik Johnson is the creative force behind Naked Kids. He sings and scribes the band’s immediate, agile tunes and executes them with effortless grace alongside Siobhan Kelly and Jason Hanakeawe. In honor of Future Shipwreck premiering Naked Kids’ first official music video, “Thugz,” I asked Nik some questions about music, boys and odors, and then took some photos of him with his head in the sand. Watch “Thugz” below and read on to get the skinny on Naked Kids’ upcoming weed BBQ!
What are your songs about? What inspires you to write music?
I dunno, they seem to have a social and political edge to them. I write lyrics in layers. So like take “Thugz”: face value, you can say its about wanting to be a better person. Like, everyone can vibe on that, but when you get into the layers of it, it’s about a number of things. One layer is talking about how we are all going to die, potentially at the same time. Another layer’s about why people are who they are today and what the fuck happened to end up like this. I get inspired by lots of things. Everything from the behavior of people, paranoia, how rad my dog is, getting dusted, cute guys, friends, even cool music, but that’s rarely the case.
What’s the first album or cassingle you ever owned?
I can remember getting KISS’ Destroyer when i was a toddler. I used to love KISS. I remember when I stole my older brother’s Suicidal Tendencies and Metallica tapes, too. I grew up in the south Chicago suburbs in the 80s and Metallica was so huge. All the heshers wore jean jackets and Metallica shirts. Pretty tight. I got really into Nirvana and Green Day later. I didn’t really buy singles until I was older. I think the first single i got was a maxi-single. That song by Paperboy, “Ditty“. I bought that and my little brother got Da Brat’s “Funkdafied“. I eventually stole that shit from him.
What qualities do you admire most in a man?
Dark eyes, dark hair, smells like Alec Baldwin.
Is there an odor that brings your happiness?
Whiskey breath and weed. Sometimes I smell like Fatburger too… that usually makes me smile.
What would happen at the ultimate Naked Kids show? Where would it take place?
Prolly the L.A. Forum with Nirvana and The Shaggs. Or maybe at our practice space. All my friends would be there with a pound of weed on a BBQ. Clam-bake that shit out, even the peeps who don’t smoke would be DUSTED. You should go, I’ll make it one of our “secret shows”!
Grape soda is my all-time favorite drink, but it’s not what I need when I wake up in the morning. And I’m not a coffee guy for reasons that are too gastro gross to go into here. I want tea upon waking. Lots of tea. And once I’ve had a couple of cups of green (the roasty variety, not the tastes-like-wet-lawn kind), I’m ready to move on to something darker and more difficult. That’s where Occulter comes in.
Occulter is the ongoing project of Derrick R. Cruz, art guy behind Black Sheep & Prodigal Sons. Its brick-and-mortar location is attached to An Choi, a Vietnamese restaurant on New York’s Lower East Side. There, you can thoughtfully consider purchasing a giant scrimshaw-adorned straight razor, a replica of a human jaw cast in silver or, less expensively, a rubber-sealed copy of The Anatomy of Melancholy. And luckily, for people living in cities where there’s not already a store full of excellently weird lifestyle accessories, Occulter is also an Internet destination. And they sell “Black Honey.” So I ordered some, along with a couple bags of their “Black Smoke” and “Sun-Withered White” tea. Finally, my friends would stop calling me a lesbian about my tea consumption (even the lesbians) and would bow to my heaviness and doom.
Now, in the wrong frame of mind, you might dismiss what arrived at my front door as simply smoky Lapsang Souchong, some dried white tea leaves and a very strong-flavored, deep purple buckwheat honey (although it is, admittedly, often known as “black honey” by bee nerds). But design matters, even with food. Would you eat a Pop Tart if it was called “Dry Square Crust Filled With A Stupidly Thin Ribbon of Fake Strawberries?” No. You want a happy talking toaster on the box and bright colors jumping into your face to make you think of real fruit ready to burst out when you tear it open. And I’m a huge fan of design that caters to my niche tastes, so when my tea needs showed up in a cloth sack with the Occulter label silkscreened on the outside, I was already halfway to happiness.
Then I looked inside the sack to find teas and honey covered with the Occulter logo sticker, Dymo-style morgue-black embossed labels and, mysteriously, an empty black plastic resealable pouch. I decided it was a body bag for the remains of deliciousness and I’m saving it for when all this stuff runs out. At that time I will conduct a midnight funeral downstairs in my building’s recycling bin.
Until that stormy evening, I’m drinking this great tea and this difficult honey (note: true to its suggestive name, it’s heavy stuff and if you use too much it’ll overpower even the burnt-offerings quality of the tea, so spoon it lightly) with drawn shades and some Wyndham Hill-meets-Gorgoroth mood music from Tomb Of…
It’s a grimly civilized way to start the day.
[ Ed. note: Dave White is a hoarder of radness. His house is brimming with awesome art objects carefully collected over the years, so I asked him to write a series of posts chronicling his connoisseurship. It all began with the purchase of one record... - Graham ]
An excerpt from the notes of a boxed, 12” piece of vinyl by Christian Marclay, one I bought in 1990:
From June 4th through July 16th 1989 the floor of one of the Shedhalle Galleries, Zurich, was covered with 3500 copies of a record titled Footsteps. During the six weeks of the installation, people were invited to walk on the records—willingly or not, they had to step on them to reach the adjacent galleries where other sculptures were exhibited. The one-sided recording, containing the sounds of footsteps, was recorded in December 1988 in the deserted hallways of the Clocktower (N.Y.) and in the studios of Harmonic Ranch (N.Y.), where Keiko Uenishi’s tap dancing was mixed in. During the gallery installation the work could be looked at, stepped on and walked through, but the recording was never heard…
At the end of the exhibition, the records, which were attached to the floor with double-sided tape, were removed.
One thousand of these records have been made available, apart from a special edition of one hundred copies signed and numbered. Dedicated to the memory of Fred Astaire.
I was already a fan of Christian Marclay, even though I was about as land-locked from both the art world and the weird music world as a person could get. I had some compilations he was on and I’d bought his 10” EP called More Encores where he mangled up the music of people like Maria Callas and Jimi Hendrix. I was a college student in Lubbock, Texas, and since the internet wasn’t around to make every single thing ever created accessible within seconds, it meant I had to dig and hunt to find the stuff I wanted to see and hear. And I had hunted down and loved his turntable re-interpretations of pre-existing sound. I don’t want this explanation to come off like “In my day I had to walk to school uphill in the snow” because it wasn’t like that. It was exciting. You learned secret stuff and shared it with the friends who also wanted in on that secret.
Anyway, my boss at the indie record shop I worked in said, “I can get this for you at my cost but it’s still going to be as much as you make in two weeks of work.” Now, I also made money by washing dishes in a women’s dorm cafeteria and feeding breakfast to a friend with really profound cerebral palsy. I always juggled two or three jobs to keep myself afloat while going to college part-time. But in spite of multiple employments this absolutely necessary indulgence was out of my reach.
Because I wasn’t reliant on my parents to live, I didn’t feel guilty about lying to my mother for some emergency art cash. I said I needed to buy groceries. That I was strapped. She wrote me a check. I remember it being somewhere in the neighborhood of $100. Maybe $150. It’s been a while and I didn’t keep good financial records back then. But it might as well have been $10,000. That’s how little wiggle room there was in my personal budget in those days. (And yes, I paid her back eventually. And not just in hugs.)
I took it out of the box, played it once, then put the accompanying poster on my bedroom wall—it’s a shot of the installation featuring all the records, including whichever one of them became mine—and placed the record on the floor. For 21 years now it has remained on the floor inside whatever front door I’ve rented. It’s been walked on by countless visitors, including one actual famous person, the label is sun-faded and the recording itself has been footstepped right off, wiped out of playability. And in the meantime Christian Marclay has become a big art world star. That makes me pretty happy. I like to think that every time a new person asked me why I had a record on my floor, my explanation turned them into a fan and I helped his reputation that way. I realize how delusional that is. It’s sort of like thinking that the shoes you don’t wear very often are sad about it.
With 1100 of these things floating around, Footsteps barely straddles the line between functional recorded object and what most people would call a proper piece of art. But to me it was my gateway drug art purchase because it inspired and satisfied a gnawing cake-hunger in my belly. That’s the itch most people who collect stuff all feel inside, the one that tells you that life is going to be so much better after you get that thing in your hands. And when it really does make life better that’s when you know you made the right decision. And I totally did. I’m going to go stomp on that record right now.
Arthur Russell was a perfectionist, a tinkerer, and something of a recluse. His East Village apartment was a cave, filled from floor to ceiling with musical equipment, records and unfinished demo tapes. Sometimes Russell was so cut off from the outside world, his only connection was an extension cord trailing back to Allen Ginsberg’s apartment, supplying free electricity to his private cocoon.
Living in that state can get a little overwhelming. At a certain point, you’re bound to feel an intense desire to untangle the ball of yarn your life has become, one thread at a time. That’s what the song “Time Away” is about, for me. It’s about getting your shit together and clearing out the cobwebs in both your physical and mental space. The tidying of a room can be a majestic and deeply profound act. It can be as triumphant and vindicating as running a marathon or baring your emotions to someone you love.
I listen to this song whenever I need to take a few deep breaths, look at things from a wider perspective and pick up my pants off the floor, even if I might wear them today. Take a listen below, and then check out the compilation it comes from, Love Is Overtaking Me, an album that’s truly incredible from start to finish.
Stoked on both the song and the video for Twin Sister‘s new single, “All Around & Away We Go.” Directed by Mike Luciano.
Julee Cruise’s “Rockin’ Back Inside My Heart” wormed its way into my ear yesterday, and it won’t leave. Cruise sings it at the Twin Peaks roadhouse in one of the series’ most sublime episodes, “Lonely Souls.” That incredible hour of television, which aired twenty years ago this week, is one of just a handful of episodes directed by David Lynch himself. He casually swings the episode’s narrative from unfathomable heights of bittersweet melancholy to the depths of gut-churning terror, and this haunting tune helps shape the mood.
Here’s a clip of Cruise performing the number in Lynch’s little-seen ballet Industrial Symphony No. 1: The Dream of the Broken Hearted. After the jump, watch the scene from “Lonely Souls,” complete with Lara Flynn Boyle lipdub.
Chilean synth-pop goddess Javiera Mena just released her second album this month, and it includes an irresistibly catchy duet with our perennial favorite Swedish songsmith-slash-lovable rapscallion, Jens Lekman. On “Sufrir,” Lekman sings in Spanish and then saunters straight into a Pet Shop Boys-esque spoken word stanza. So fun! Watch the video above, where a fan has helpfully edited “Sufrir” (complete with lyrical subtitles) to the lovely sights of Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder, and check out the full album, Mena. It’s brimming with danceable brilliance.
The Failing of Raymond
Incident at Channel Z
some Japanese documentary on body pulses