Union Transfer



Radio 104.5 Presents


Transviolet, Kopps

Thu, June 23, 2016

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

Union Transfer

Philadelphia, PA

$15.00 - $17.00

This event is all ages

They're smart. They're funny. They're in a band. Wait, there's more. Joywave are five hardened criminals from Rochester, NY, making conceptual, humorously self-aware indie pop that's both meta and personal, retro and cutting edge, all-ages and sophisticated. To step inside a Joywave song is to lose yourself in a thoughtfully-curated, tech-savvy synthesis of emotions, genres and random noise, blended into an eminently danceable DIY sound smoothie. Add to that an energetic and seamless live performance (as Rolling Stone said of their 2014 Lollapalooza show, "Joywave brought the disco to the forest") not to mention lead singer Daniel Armbruster's unforgettable mustache, and the result is a buzz that won't stop growing.

The last 12 months have seen a flurry of activity for the quintet -- they released the 'How Do You Feel?' EP, played a packed SXSW showcase, opened for the Killers, made waves at Lollapalooza and toured the US, Europe and UK for the first time. They've already had two tracks hit #1 on Hype Machine, and their hotly-anticipated debut album 'How Do You Feel Now?' was release April 21, 2015.

But things haven't always been this up -- Joywave's is a post-recession survival story of creativity fueled by hopelessness. The five band members -- vocalist Daniel Armbruster, guitarist Joseph Morinelli, bassist Sean Donnelly, keyboardist Benjamin Bailey, and drummer Paul Brenner -- met at school in the economically-depressed blue collar town of Rochester, in western New York state. Daniel and Sean initially teamed up because "Sean had some software I wanted," says Daniel, and the band went through various incarnations, including a joke band whose songs satirized contemporary pop hits. "Within a couple months of starting this fake band we did a showcase for a major label," says Daniel. "We were like 'guys, this is a joke, thank you for the pizza.'" The next endeavor was more traditional guitar rock. "We learned opposite things from those two bands," says Sean. "Basically that the whole music industry is a giant shit storm, so we should do whatever makes us happy. That is what led to the genre-hopping and experimentation of our current sound."

Joywave as we now know it officially formed in January 2010, and they released their first mix tape in March 2011, '77777,' which Daniel describes as "a space odyssey constructed around one cohesive fictional story." It was followed by the "88888" mix tape, and their EP, 'Koda Vista.' Joywave's early releases enabled the band to explore which viewpoints and genres best suited Daniel's voice, until they were finally ready to record their debut album, 'How Do You Feel Now?' It's a record that's deeply personal to Armbruster, who never imagined that as an adult he'd still be living at his parents' house and making music in the basement with the same friends he'd had since high school. "I still sleep in the same bed that I did when I was in seventh grade," he says. "In seventh grade you think you know where life's going to go and then you're like 'wow, I didn't do anything yet,' which is super disappointing and super eye opening too. So this album has been completely inspired by the idea of wasting away at home and watching your life fly by."

Signing with Hollywood Records in 2013 enabled them to get out of Daniel's basement and rent their own studio, a free standing cottage in Rochester that resembles a "weird Soviet dentist's office" whose plumbing stopped working during recording, and whose ceiling caved in. "When the plumbing went down for a couple weeks, part of the consequence of that was that we felt compelled to record ourselves peeing into milk cartons," says Armbruster. The "whoosh of the pee stream" made it onto the beginning of one of the tracks. In fact, the entire album is a tapestry of field recordings and app-mutated sounds: noises from a Jet Blue flight, hallelujahs of a choir in Brooklyn, and samples from "Fantasia," "Peter Pan," and "Bambi" (Joywave is the first band Disney has allowed to sample its classic cartoons).

"Somebody New," the first single off 'How Do You Feel Now?,' is a "lazy love song" that was born after Armbruster had a dream in which Skrillex was DJ'ing "this hilarious song, with this 'woop woop' dubstep riff. When I woke up I thought it would be funny to build a song around that." The "Somebody New" video was directed by Keith Schofield (Duck Sauce, Beck, Bastille.)

The infectious "Tongues" is a reaction to Armbruster's experience as a DJ, seeing the same fun-time people week after week, and having them describe in detail all the things they wanted to do with their lives, but never did. The buzz-inducing video for "Tongues" (directed by The Daniels) features an almost entirely naked cast shot on 16mm, Joywave's attempt to take the trend of putting naked girls in music videos and poke fun at it in their typically atypical style.

Obsessed with the processes and concepts behind music making, they cite pop's great explorers -- Damon Albarn and Kanye West, for example -- as inspirations. Not that they sound like them, necessarily -- for Joywave, what's inspiring, more so than a specific song or artist, is a dedication to reinvention. "We tip our hat to people who do want they want to do and constantly reinvent themselves," says Daniel. "People who say 'I am going to do exactly what I want to do right now, and not worry about what I did before or what the last track sounded like.' That level of reckless creativity is what we continually aspire to."
Isn't it funny when you have enough distance to look back and realize there was one accidental meeting, one look exchanged, one conversation shared which set in motion a chain of events that changed your life forever? It's hardly a revelatory sentence—after all, whole films, artworks and albums have crystallized these kinds of coincidences and their knock-on effects. Transviolet's forthcoming full length is not one of those records, but the sequence of events that brought them to the point of a) creating a collection of songs together and b) for those songs to then be released, can be attributed to talent and chemistry, sure, but some divine happenstance too.

For instance, several years ago Transviolet singer Sarah McTaggart's mom was seated next to a celebrity hairdresser on a flight. The pair got talking and being the proud parent, Sarah's mom ended up bending his ear about her daughter's band. When she hopped off the flight she insisted Sarah reach out to him via Twitter. "I was like, stop bothering this poor man, he was nice enough to talk to you on the plane, I don't think he really wants to hear our music!" Sarah laughs. "But she kept asking until I finally sent him some of our stuff." And you can bet he liked what he heard—so much so in fact, that when dining with a record exec friend later that week, said hairdresser mentioned Transviolet. After one listen the exec was hooked, insisting that they speak with Sarah that very night.

"They called me at 10.30 PM and I was in my PJs and I thought someone was pranking me because the guy on the other line was like, 'We want to sign you, we want to do a showcase," she recalls, still somewhat incredulous. "I got off the phone stunned. It was super freaking crazy: they called that night and we were signed and moving to LA a month later." All because someone chose an aisle seat (probably).

But this wasn't the only moment that a twist of chance altered the course their path: their origin story is equally serendipitous. Thanks to her father's job as an entrepreneur, Sarah's family lead a nomadic existence. She spent her childhood bouncing from place to place before settling in Grand Cayman, where her father's family hailed from originally. A Caribbean island surrounded by crystal cerulean water sounds like paradise, but removed from her friends and the "normal" high school existence, Sarah felt isolated. Although she arrived late to artists like The Beatles, Nirvana, Bob Dylan and Radiohead—"those timeless songwriters whose music really seems to transcend time and space"—it was at this point in her life that these artists really resonated.

"I clung to that kind of music because I moved around a lot as a kid and didn't really fit in or I got sick of trying to fit in," she explains. "So I'd escape by listening to songs like 'Across the Universe' or 'Lithium' or 'Creep'—these artists, they get me. I became obsessed with lyrics and songwriting and that's when I knew it was what I wanted to do."

It was around this time that Sarah picked up the guitar. She cut her teeth playing open mic nights on the island, eventually uploading her material to a site designed to bring musicians together. And here's where the other random split second decision triggered a crucial set of events: instead of listing her whereabouts as the Caymans, Sarah wrote San Diego on her profile. She'd set her sights on the SoCal city and it turned out to be something of self-fulfilling prophecy because when multi-instrumentalist Michael Panek logged on to search for a female vocalist, he narrowed his search to his area in—you guessed it—San Diego. A sucker for "90s jams" there was something in Sarah's songs that appealed to this leaning. "Her lyrical style reminded me of Death Cab For Cutie," explains the Rochester, NY native. But more than that it was her innate sense of melody that reeled him in.

"There's a lot of good singers out there who can write crappy lyrics and get by," he explains. "But there was something about her that had substance, it was a real visceral connection." Despite the fact that Sarah immediately admitted she wasn't based in San Diego, the pair quickly forged a musical partnership: Michael would email his music and Sarah would apply her words and melodies. She introduced him to Alt-J; he played her Sigur Ros. This was at the top of 2011 and by the end of it she'd uprooted her life and moved to San Diego. Was it a shock to meet each other in person for the first time after the intimacy of long distance songwriting?

"Luckily in those emails we were both pretty honest about who we were," says Michael. "She was exactly who I thought she was going to be—except she was a lot shorter. I think the first thing I said to her when I hugged her was like, 'Oh you're so small!'"

It wasn't long after the airplane-Twitter-phone call exchange that the duo upped sticks and moved to LA. Once there, Transviolet truly solidified thanks to the addition of Michael's high school buddies and former bandmates, drummer Jonathan Garcia and guitarist Judah McCarthy. What followed was an incredibly fertile period: they signed to Epic and penned some 60-odd songs which were eventually whittled to a svelte debut album scheduled to drop next year.

But it was the quartet's first song, which they popped online in the summer of 2015, that announced Transviolet's arrival and really whet appetites for more. "Girls Your Age" is a bewitching slip of a song with Sarah's voice at once recalling the Lana, Lorde and Imogen Heap: sultry, measured, assured. The song gained instant online traction. People clicked play and clicked play again. Katy Perry praised the lyrics, Harry Styles tweeted his support, Ellie Goulding selected it for a spin on Beats1 and Twin Shadow delivered an exclusive remix. "Girls Your Age" soon became a bonafide viral sensation with over a million plays on Spotify alone. Unflinchingly personal, it was also an apt introduction to the band. "It was my coming of age story, I wanted to put something out there that was raw, it wasn't trying to be anything, it was just a true account of how I felt growing up and the turmoil that surrounded that," states Sarah. "You're trying to figure out who you are and at the same time the world is telling you feel this and be that and want this and you're caught in the crossfire."

Their four song eponymous EP (released this past September) further underscores what's in store. "Bloodstream" is a straight up toxic love tune, while "Night Vision" expresses the flip of this. Elsewhere "New Bohemia" is unabashedly anthemic, but the lyrics are anything but throwaway. "I feel like every individual has the power to change the world, we decide on a daily basis what our world looks like and every decision we make effects our reality," explains Sarah of the song's message. "I wanted to write a song that inspired people to speak up and take action and to take responsibility for our generation and take a stand for something that you believe in."

"For all of us it's more than just the music," Michael concurs. "We think it's important to spread positive messages and have a nice effect on the world around us." While Michael describes Sarah and him as yin and yang—her lyrics and melodies, his beats and arrangements—the addition of Jon and Judah should also not be underestimated. Sarah credits them as being essential to the development of their sound, which they're now honing live on their first ever tour (they made their stage debut back in September 2015). The foursome are a tight unit and it works. "There are no divas, we all look at each other as equals and there's no such thing as stupid ideas," affirms Sarah. "I think that safety is what allows us to feel so free in the writing process because no matter what, the other three people are always going to back you up. Those stupid ideas are what sometimes lead to the brilliant ideas."

Fate may have leant a helping hand, but Transviolet don't need luck to take this to the next level.
KOPPS' live shows serve one purpose: to make you sweat. The Rochester duo, consisting of Patricia Patrón and Kyle O, have a penchant for 90's dance music, female dominance, and anything involving synthesizers. While 2012 marked the release of their debut EP, the duo has since released a new single and have appeared on Joywave's Hype Machine-topping single, "Tongues". KOPPS' high-energy live shows will have you on your feet, leaving you wanting more from the self-described crazy sexy creepy dance duo.
Venue Information:
Union Transfer
1026 Spring Garden St.
Philadelphia, PA, 19123