FAULT Online Chat with SUUNS – Ben Shemie

 

A B S T R A C T.  D A R K.  R O M A N T I C.

Ben Shemie is talking Suuns

The legends of Canadian underground music scene Suuns recently released a new album “Gazelles in flight” with a close friend of the band Radwan Ghazi Moumneh of Jerusalem In My Heart. We had a chat with Suuns’ frontment Ben Shemie.

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Hi Ben! How are you?

I’m good. I’m at home. I’m doing my laundry.

I see musicians are people too 🙂 Congratulations on your upcoming release with Jerusalem in My Heart! How did you come up with the idea of this collaboration?

Radwan is kind of a big deal on Montreal music scene, and he’s been making and producing a lot of records for years. We are good friends with him and we really like his music, so we’ve talked about collaboration together to do something different and to have some fun. We booked a studio for a week and recorded some ideas together. It was a really long organic thing that wasn’t expected to be released at first.

Who set the tone for this album? I mean, every song has its name, and some of them are difficult to understand, but probably each of them has a meaning behind it.

Right, you can’t really pronounce it because they are Arabic, so instead of writing them in Arabic, it’s kind of English-numerical way of pronouncing them.

Who is Leyla (referring the name of the song from current album)? Is Leyla a new Edie? (referring “Edie’s Dream” 2013 song)

It’s funny you’re asking, because Leyla is the only song in a whole album that I guess was brought as a traditional song. We played a few shows together when we didn’t have that much material, and in Arabic you say “Layla” at the beginning of the performance when you’re calling on the night, so it was transformed into Leyla as person’s name. It’s also nice to have something short and not drowning in forever, something different.

The new album is very different to your style, being even more psychedelic and less lyric, isn’t it? Can you define its genre(s) or give your vision on this outcome?

I never thought about it in that way and didn’t try to qualify it in multiply genres. Radwan’s music doesn’t have core changes, it’s very drowny and repetitive. So we are doing something similar, but we have more of rock-n-roll feeling with our guitars and stuff. Whatever we do, I feel like it’s a combination of those 2 components, whatever you want to call it. I don’t think it is experimental in a classical sense of word. It’s a vibe thing, it’s about the feel. Vibe-feel record.

Are you coming in the UK as well?

I don’t know yet, but it looks like we will do a couple o tours in September-November.

Let’s talk about Suuns particularly. Where do you derive your inspiration?

Inspiration comes from all over the place. I can only speak to myself because Suuns is about 4 individuals, so it’s hard to comment on it. I think we are all more or less in the same place. I grew up in a classical rock-n-roll, playing the guitar, 70-s music. So did Joe (Yarmush). We all spent some time playing jazz music. Now, over the years, we listen to a lot of electronic music naturally.

2 biggest killers for Suuns are Led Zeppelin, classy rock-n-roll, and Plastic Man, minimal electronic thing. Something in-between those two worlds.

Who is Suuns songwriter?

Up until now I’ve written most of the songs, but a lot of them are not finished yet. Sometimes I write specifically, and sometimes everyone add their own voice to it. The idea of the song is me, and band fills up the rest of it.

Do your lyrics describe something particular? Some experience in your life?

It depends on song and on the inspiration. For example, we had a tour with Black Angel couple of years ago – it’s a heavy psycho-rock band , and as a result of just playing with them for a month that definitely made me write in a different way, cause I’ve got inspired by them. In the past I did a lot of clubbing and that influenced our music as well.

I think there is some love stuff in there too and a phycodelic part of what I’m singing about. It’s all based around the sound, so in some songs I don’t really sing about anything. We always try to develop a story line lyrically or musically.

You’ve been touring at home, in the US, all over Europe and even in Russia. Where was your most memorable show?

In different places we have different following. I’d say in Montreal the audience is pretty laid back in our gigs, but we always had our good shows in France, and our best shows in Paris. People are really cool there. My favorite show was during our first European tour in Paris, the first time we sold out the show. Ever since it always became bigger and better, so every time we play there is cool, but also it’s the most pressure. Eastern Europe audience is really fun.

Sometimes you have good nights, sometimes bad. In my opinion we’ve played a really horrendous show in NY. I left the stage thinking that was so shit, but everyone after said “that was so great!”. You play for an hour and a half, you got a feeling before on how it should be, you have different things planned but you don’t really know how that’s going to happen. Sometimes you feel that everything is lined up and you’re making music. In London we felt loose, and I knew that the audience was appreciating it as well.

3 words that come to our mind when you’re thinking about Suuns. Be abstract.

The Abstract is one of my words. I guess it’s pretty dark. And it’s romantic.

What’s your fault Ben Shemie?

It’s all my fault.

Words: Ksenia Safrey

FAULT Presents: Our Top 20 Albums of 2013 (part 2)

Part 2 of our Top 20 Favourite Albums of 2013 feature. You can find part 1 HERE. Remember, these are just our personal favourite albums of the year, in no particular order. Let us know if you think we missed anything!

10. John Legend – Love in the Future

john_legend cover - web

John Legend inside FAULT Issue 13

Remember John Legend’s first album? Well, this is absolutely nothing like that. For a start, it’s executive-produced by Kanye West and features songwriting collaborations with Rick Ross. It’s unashamedly sexy, dramatic and soulful, and even manages to make schmaltz sound cool.‘All Of Me’ is a pop ballad in the truest sense, and wouldn’t sound out of place being sung by One Direction. It’s a polarising point on the album, but Legend’s smooth soul flows throughout, and he’s incredibly good at it.

Read John’s own thoughts on the album inside FAULT Issue 13. Excerpts from our interview (and some shots from inside the issue) are available here and our behind the scenes video from our shoot can be found here

John Legend – ‘All Of Me’:

 

9. Haim – Days are Gone

Haim inside FAULT issue 15

Haim inside FAULT issue 15

2013 was undeniably Haim’s year. They’ve been universally praised by the likes of The Line of Best Fit and The Guardian as well as garnering extensive airplay on Radio 1. Instant classics like ‘Falling’ and ‘Don’t Save Me’ secured their debut’s position as one of the most anthemic and memorable records of the year.

We spoke to the sibling trio in FAULT Issue 15 while they were recording Days Are Gone, in which they told us what to expect from the album (needless to say, it didn’t disappoint): “Be prepared to have some fun! We had a lot of fun making it, so I hope it sounds fun. There are a bunch of new songs as well as songs that we released before.”

Read more from the interview, or get the full feature in FAULT Issue 15 from here

Haim – ‘Falling’:

 

8. Bass Drum of Death – Bass Drum of Death

bass drum of death

While Black Lips fans await their next album, they’ll probably be filling the gap with Bass Drum of Death. The Mississippi outfit’s honest, fuzzy garage-rock may not be particularly pioneering, but they demonstrate an excellent grasp of the genre in their second full-length offering, with infectious melodies and a purposefully under-produced sound. They also really, really like reverb. Who doesn’t?

Bass Drum Of Death – ‘Crawling After You’:

 

7. Charli XCX – True Romance

Charli XCX inside FAULT Issue 16

Charli XCX inside FAULT Issue 16

She’s had a fantastic 2013 by anyone’s standards – the past year has seen Charli XCX tour with other FAULT Featured artists Ellie Goulding and Marina and the Diamonds, as well as Paramore. She’s gone from underground sensation (her first album, ‘14’ was an acclaimed underground hit in 2008, but never commercially released) to the potential ‘next big thing’ of leftfield quirky-pop. Her vocal tone is strikingly similar to Marina Diamandis but her songwriting and grasp of melodic devices is phenomenal for her 21 years.

 In her recent interview for FAULT Issue 16, Charli revealed that she “always see[s her] music in colours. , my first record, was purple, whereas this [upcoming] album is going to be red. I’m inspired visually by red lips, blazers and things that blow up!…It’s going to be much more alive than True Romance.”

Read more excerpts and see more shots from the shoot here – or get the whole story in FAULT Issue 16, available from here.

Charli XCX – ‘You’re The One’:

 

6. SUUNS – Images du Futur

suuns Slightly freaky but wholly compelling, ‘Images du Futur’ really is something of a masterpiece, juxtaposing the heady sound of electro-indie (think Holy Ghost, Cut Copy) with what can only be described as futuristic lo-fi garage. FAULT Favourites SUUNS are carving their way through multiple genres with this impressive second album, and as a result, saw themselves nominated for the 2013 Polaris Music Prize.

Check out our interview with the Montreal four-piece in full on FAULT Online here

SUUNS – ‘Edie’s Dream’:

 

5. Jessica Sanchez – Me, You and the Music

Jessica Sanchez inside FAULT Issue 16

Jessica Sanchez inside FAULT Issue 16

The American Idol runner-up showed she’s not just a pretty face with her impressive debut album. After a stint on Glee, it would have been easy for her to continue down the squeaky-clean teen pop route, but she shakes off any preconceptions with the R’n’B-influenced ‘Me, You and the Music’, which includes a collaboration with Ne-Yo and songs co-written by Tom Petty and Sia.

Read Jessica’s own thoughts on the album inside FAULT Issue 16. Excerpts from our interview (and some images from inside the issue) are available here, along with our exclusive behind the scenes video. Get the whole story in FAULT Issue 16, available from here.

Jessica Sanchez – ‘Tonight’:

 

4.Big Sean – Hall of Fame

Our (in)famous shoot with Big Sean inside FAULT Issue 15

Our (in)famous shoot with Big Sean inside FAULT Issue 15

If you miss Notorious B.I.G as much as we do., Big Sean is there to fill the void. His unashamedly retro hip-hop, with song titles like ‘MILF’ and ‘Freaky’ borders on being a pastiche without crossing the line into ‘Trapped In The Closet’ territory. Collaborations with Li’l Wayne, Nicki Minaj and 2 Chainz make this one of the most noticeable new hip-hop releases, and Sean’s lyrics segue between the humorous and the filthy with ease.

 Big Sean told us in FAULT Issue 15 that Hall of Fame featured “the best music [he’d] ever made”. Read more from the interview, and see more shots, here – or get the full story in FAULT Issue 15 – available from here.

Big Sean – ‘Guap’:

 

3. The Black Angels – Indigo Meadow

black angels

Not only did they use some seriously Sixties cover art for ‘Indigo Meadow’, they also showed that they’re still one of the American underground rock scene’s forerunners with an album that’s as melodic, lyrically dark and introspective as you’d expect from the Texan five-piece.

Read our interview with the psych-rockers in full on FAULT Online here

The Black Angels – ‘Indigo Meadow’:

 

2. Beyonce – Beyonce

beyonce

One morning, we all awoke to a new Beyonce album. No media fanfare or indeed any clues at all preceded the release of Beyonce’s self-titled fifth album, which began as an iTunes exclusive. Following the release, she announced that she ‘sees’ music, explaining the fact that each track came with its own music video. Throughout the course of the album’s accompanying visuals, she portrays an exploited pageant queen (‘Pretty Hurts’, which is co-written by Sia), a happy theme-park goer (‘XO’) and sings an entire song about having sex with Jay Z (‘Drunk In Love’).

Beyonce – ‘Drunk In Love’:

 

1. Mac Miller – Watching Movies with the Sound Off

mac miller

Mac Miller described his second album as ‘introspective’ and he certainly lived up to that promise with ‘Watching Movies with the Sound Off’. His previous style of playful party anthems has been shelved in favour of deeper lyrical content and a clear desire to make music for no-one other than himself – although the lead single is officially ‘Somebody Do Something’ (abbreviated to S.D.S) there is no particular standout track. Taking this approach is a risk, but one that’s paid off for Miller.

 Look out for more of Mac Miller in FAULT Issue 17 – more info announced this Friday 10th January!

Mac Miller – ‘S.D.S.’:

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Read the rest of our Top 20 FAULT Favourite Albums of 2013 feature:

Part 1

Part 2

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Words by Thea de Gallier