28 September 2015

Boy King Islands Q & A with Spreading The Seed

Spreading The Seed, a blog from Australia, recently interviewed me about my music as Boy King Islands.

Gʼday Iʼm… 

Boy King Islands

What do you do…

I do a little too much, but am doing my best to narrow my focus… Outside of making music as Boy King Islands and Caural, I love food, traveling, film, photography, collage, wine, meditating, running, the ocean and my fiancée, Alexandra.

The last song you listened to…

“Moussey” by Collages. Any love song to a cat is something I can get down with.

The first record/cd/cassette you bought with your own money…

Embarrasingly (well, now anyway), my first musical acquisition was the 7” single of Laura Braniganʼs song, “Gloria”. I was like, 3 years old. The first tape I remember buying was Motley Crueʼs “Too Fast For Love” when I was maybe 7, and the first CD I bought was Lushʼs “Gala” at 12.

When in the studio you must have…

More patience with myself, probably. But in terms of tangible things, I love my KSM313 for recording guitars and my Double Chorus pedal by Mr. Black from rainy Portland. I love my new Rickenbacker bass too.

Your craziest fan moment…

This one time, on Bandcamp, I stuck a flute… Oh wait, nevermind.

What song was a life changer for you…

I canʼt narrow it down to a single song, but I think that Miles Davisʼ album “Bitches Brew” was truly formative for me as a teenager when I started playing live. Even though I donʼt play jazz now per se, the aesthetics of jazz and truly genre-less improvisation have shaped every record I have ever made as Boy King Islands, Caural, or any other brief alias Iʼve hidden behind.

Whatʼs your fave Music Video and why…

I grew up recording MTV on VHS tapes, so itʼs pretty hard to hone in on just one. But a recent video that is absolutely brilliant is for “Never Catch Me” by Flying Lotus, directed by Hiro Murai. Really, the last bunch of his videos have been fantastic. Production value aside, the depth of their commentary on death is refreshing and beautiful, and their narrative truly elevates the material versus acts as a flowery accompaniment, which too many music videos are to me.

Who inspires you musically…

I just saw “Love and Mercy” (about Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys) and wanted to run home and set up a microphone immediately. Like Brian Wilson, the artists who inspire me the most are those who experiment with how a composition is brought to light - especially when the ensuing technique aids in the evolution of art.

If we could put you on the stage with any one artist who would it be…

Stevie Wonder. I was going to say Butthole Surfers circa the mid-80s just because their stage show was totally insane, but come on man: itʼs fucking Stevie Wonder!

State one thing that most people donʼt know about you…

I have written down what I do every day solidly for the last twenty years. At this point, I have been doing it for so long that I canʼt stop.

Favourite Simpsons character…

I have thought too long and hard about this and still have no idea. For now, I am going with Lisa.

Best advice for new and emerging artists…

Do not care what anyone thinks about you and make music that you love… A lot of it!

What would be on your music gear wishlist…

I need a floating, sound-proof room. I recently recorded vocals at my cousinʼs house in Sonoma at like two in the morning, and that worked too.

Favourite place to listen to music…

On headphones, running around Lake Merritt.

Whatʼs your personal musical discovery this year…

My fiancée and I were in Aquarius Records in San Francisco, and she randomly picked out a tape by an artist I had never heard of named Xiphiidae (Jeffry Astin). We put the tape in the car and suddenly were transported to what sounded like a drum circle in India. I canʼt stop listening to the damn tape (“Honeyguise”, on Rotifer Cassettes).

Looking forward… what has the next 12 monthʼs got in store for you…

I am going to work my first harvest in Napa this season, so the next few months are going to be completely exhausting and I canʼt imagine Iʼll have a lot of time for music until December. I do have a lot of new material written though and am excited to start recording… I want to at least have an EP finished by next spring, and I want to start working on another new Caural album as well.

How would you define success…
Success is setting a goal and enjoying the process of achieving it. Hopefully you learn something new along the way and are able to laugh at yourself if you fuck it up.

Do you think that online social media is an important tool for musicians to-

I honestly hate social media but, at the same time, I realize that next to touring it is the single most important thing you NEED to do nowadays as a musician. Since I havenʼt toured in years and have never even played live as Boy King Islands it looks like I should probably post some more photos of my cat or something.

What do you love about being musicians/singer-songwriters the most…

Music is such a huge and necessary part of my life that Iʼve honestly never thought about what I even like about it; itʼs just something that is there constantly, whether in or outside of my head. I suppose the best part is when this thing that has magically come through me resonates with someone else, and it becomes a shared experience.

If you had to choose - Space Flight or a set with Dave Grohl?

Dave Grohl is pretty great, but is this really a question? When can I board the spaceship?

Do you have a bucket list…
Of course, and space flight is on it. I couldnʼt do a one-way trip though, unless I knew there would be another planet that would welcome me. Earth is getting pretty scary lately.

21 September 2015

Caural - Valley Fire Mix for Sub FM

John Moses of Youngbloods recently invited me to guest on his show on Sub FM. Here is the archive with my mix beginning around 58:50.

Caural - Valley Fire
A Mix for Sub FM

1. Ian William Craig - "One Hour Was Sunlit" (self-released)
2. SND - Atavism 11 (Raster-Noton)
3. Kit Clayton - Nuchu (~scape)
4. Huerco S - Chun-Kee Player (Software)
5. Twerk - Return to Hokkaido (Mille Plateaux)
6. Gas - Pop VI (Mille Plateaux)
7. Burial - UK (Hyperdub)
8. Future Sound of London - Among Myselves (Astralwerks)
9. Black To Comm - Hotel Freund (Type)
10. Belong - Common Era (Kranky)
11. Emptyset - Limit (Raster-Noton)
12. Heathered Pearls - Left Climber edit (Ghostly)
13. Mount Kimbie - Would Know (Hotflush Recordings)
14. Cy - Qna edit (self-released)
15. Clams Casino - I'm God edit (self-released)
16. Caural - Highway 1 Chimes (field recording)
17. All - All Music edit (Mille Plateaux)
18. Misel Quitno - Pull It Out Somewhen (Everest Records)
19. Raj Mahal - Shooting (self-released)
20. Culp - CH0RDEMBLEU (self-released)
21. Warm Thighs - Stay With Me (SLF Tapes)
22. Teebs - Moments (Brainfeeder)
23. Christian Fennesz - Before I Leave (Mego)

Download the full mix here:

11 August 2015

[DISCOGRAPHY] Caural - Handmade Evil

Caural - Handmade Evil (Prism92, 2015)
Format: Digital Only

1. Shallow
2. Crystal Keys
3. I Grab The Microphone & Fuck It Up
4. Gyokuro
5. Pentagram (Re-Experience)
6. Mandala
7. Handmade Evil
8. Monolith
9. Enneagram

Mixed and arranged by Caural.
Mastered by Peter Farr at Prismaphonic.
Design by Bagger 43 (Bagger43.com)


Handmade Evil was completely improvised on two hardware samplers in a time when most artists hide behind glowing apple logos and software's sheen: Caural on his signature Yamaha SU700, with accompaniment on an MPC by K-Kruz.

Absolutely no sequencing was done, leaving the canvas wide open and each sound inescapably triggered by hand.

The resulting songs were then arranged using audio from live performances throughout the east coast and midwest circa 2006 - 2009, preserving the unique and furious sets that sometimes left Caural's hands bloodied, and knobs torn off his machine.


As a progenitor to what became the modern beat music, Caural is unmatched in his pure understanding of what fundamental elements make a dope progressing beat. The bedroom production platform that he revisits on Handmade Evil allows these boundless arrangements to come about by stripping down the songwriting to just his core imaginative instincts: this is truly a labor of love. Not needing any scene, mythology or social media fanfare to craft a collection undeniable beat gems, he is the purest type of producer in an era of on-line saturation and calculated turn-ups. 
- Regan Farquhar / Busdriver (Big Dada)

"I Grab The Microphone & Fuck It Up" describes everything for me in this record: melodic beats and noise coming together in one record. Love it!
- Teebs (Brainfeeder)

Caural's music has always pushed boundaries. This new record is no exception. [This is an] incredible performance of tunes he's never released until now - no computers, pretty mind blowing! He's been a big influence on me since his first record dropped on Chocolate Industries in the early 2000's, and Handmade Evil further cements his place as one of the innovators of electronic music.
- Sweatson Klank (Project Mooncircle, Dublab, Tone & Manor)

Rough, rugged, raw, genius, and lovely live instrumental Hip-Hop before it was labeled a "Beat Scene". 
- KRTS (Project Mooncircle)

07 August 2015

[DISCOGRAPHY] Various Artists - Dreams Never End - A Tribute To New Order

Dreams Never End - A Tribute To New Order (The Blog That Celebrates Itself Records, 2015)
[no catalog number]
Format: Digital

Boy King Islands - "The Him"

"The Him" taken from New Order's album, Movement

Recorded in Oakland and Sonoma, CA in May and June of 2015
Alex Lewis sings beautifully.
Mixed by Dan Smart at ECHO/NORMAL
Mastered by Peter Farr at Prismaphonic

24 July 2015

Interview on The Tower SFAI Radio

Thanks to Gabi Abrahamson & The Tower SFAI Radio for having me on to discuss my music. Listen to an archive of the show below:

27 April 2015

Ghettoblaster Magazine Feature on Boy King Islands

Check out Ghettoblaster Magazine's interview with me about the new Boy King Islands album, White Mirror!

(from Chris Eichenseer's cover photo shoot for Boy King Islands' debut, Fall)

Q: When did you begin writing the material for White Mirror? 

The first couple of songs were written in October of 2011 while I was living in the Mission in San Francisco (we had just finished our second album, Sun Worship, the week prior to my move from Chicago that July). All too soon, I was thrust into a nightmarish vortex of the day job that moved me out there and, by late September, I hadn’t played guitar in months. I was afforded the opportunity to go to northern Italy and model for a Merrell catalog of all things. Well, that serendipitous trip totally reinvigorated me and brought me back to the world of positive thinking.

“Constellation” was written – lyrics and all – the first week I got back to the states, and I came up with the chord progression for “Crying Wolf” on Halloween night. “Twin Flames” followed when I moved back to Chicago only two weeks later, and the rest of the album punctuated 2012 amidst another period of intense life changes.

Q: What was the most difficult song to take from the initial writing stage through recording and mixing?  Why was it so troublesome?

While it wasn’t the most difficult per se, certainly the most complicated song from a songwriting perspective was “We Can’t Tell from Where We Are”. It began innocently enough with a chord progression Jason wrote on the guitar. After we fleshed it out with drums, percussion and scratch vocals, I like to think the song went into its fermentation stage because we really didn’t return to it much for over a year!

When we finally revisited it, Jason scrapped and revamped a whole bunch of his guitar work and put some beautiful piano chords together, and I created the outro for the song using a process that – even by my liberal standards – was a little intense… I rendered the unmixed, original song in reverse and chopped out individual chords from that audio. I then composed a new motif using those resultant samples, flipped that composition forwards, and then mimicked it as best I could by re-tracking it with all new instruments and vocals. When it felt like a stand-alone song, all of those final takes were reversed to sound like the sample-based, scratch version I did in the first place: backwards!

Q: Which of the songs on the record is most different from your original concept for the song?

I think “White Mirror” may stand out to me as the one which evolved the most organically over time. I wrote the changes for the verse on a camping trip and suppose I initially conceived it being only guitar and voice, but of course the more I listened to it, the more I heard other things happening. That’s always how it goes I guess? The icing on the cake was tracking with my friend Stuart Bogie at his studio in Brooklyn. I asked him to play flute on it, but then suggested he try clarinet as well. I had to catch a flight back to Chicago and left his studio after he cut the flute parts. The next thing I know, he sends me a version of the song with this amazing arrangement on it and I just lost it!

Q: Did you have any guest musicians play or sing on the record?

As I mentioned, Stuart Bogie (Superhuman Happiness, Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, TV on The Radio, Arcade Fire, etc.) did a lot for this record. He played sax, flute, clarinet, jaw harp, bass harmonica… I had him do whatever he could. He and I have been working together on music since I was six years old, so there’s a real chemistry there.

Jacob Croegaert plays bass on a few songs, and my friend Owen O’Malley of Bailiff absolutely ripped the bass part on “Twin Flames”. He laid down bass on another song we left off the album and I almost wanted to keep it on just because of his playing. Dominic Johnson (Brian Wilson, Belle & Sebastian, The Rachels, New Millennium Orchestra) played violin on a few songs and brought his friend Dan Klingler along for a couple sessions on cello. Those guys really made their parts sing and were ultra patient with our notation!

Speaking of singers, Jason’s wife Beth did her usual background vocal duties (she has been singing on Boy King Islands records since the beginning), and we brought on our friend Lashandra Smith-Rayfield for a tune. However, I was most excited about my future wife Alex Lewis’ voice on “We Can’t Tell from Where We Are” and am also secretly happy she is finally singing karaoke with me in public! I almost forgot… Our engineer Dan Smart was eating some celery while I was recording “Mistakes to Learn”, and I made him chew some on the track.

Q: Who produced the record? What input did that person have that changed the face of the record?

Like our last two albums, Jason and I produced this record together, but Dan (Smart) really became a third producer early on. He was the pair of fresh ears and our balance in the tracking and mixing sessions. He was the one to say, “do you really need fifteen guitar tracks on this song?” Most of the time, the answer was still a resounding “yes!” but at least he was asking. No, but seriously, he was able to translate whatever we had in our minds into sound, and is the most objective sounding board I have ever had for my music.

Q: Is there an overarching concept behind your new album that ties the record together?

In the year I wrote the lyrics for the album, I lost my father, and regained my love, Alexandra, after a year of being apart. Nothing puts life under a microscope like death and love. The album’s title “White Mirror” is meant to symbolize exactly what you think it should: a reflection of higher truth (white symbolizing all light and all color, with darkness being the potential for light and not the opposite of light). Each song on the album therefore is a different meditation on life, love, and death, with the title track of course being the most exoteric statement on this theme. I was also getting deeper into theosophy and esotericism over this period, and so I won’t deny that a lot of those ideas snuck not-too-discretely into the content, song order, and even album artwork.

Q: Have you begun playing these songs live and which songs have elicited the strongest reaction from your fans?

There has never been a performance of any of the Boy King Islands material actually. I had entertained putting together a band, but Jason and I barely had the time between us to write and record this album let alone teach other people the parts to rehearse and play! The songs I have had the most feedback on however are “Crying Wolf” and “Twin Flames”; funnily enough the former is about denying love and the latter is about accepting it.

“You’d think that people would have had enough of silly love songs. I look around me and see it isn’t so”

24 March 2015

[DISCOGRAPHY] Boy King Islands - White Mirror

Boy King Islands - White Mirror (Prism92, 2015)
Format: LP, CD & Digital

1. Constellation
2. Twin Flames
3. I'm Taking Over Me
4. Crying Wolf
5. Held
6. Say It's Home
7. Mistakes to Learn
8. White Mirror
9. We Can't Tell from Where We Are
10. Echoes

All songs written between Fall 2011 and Summer 2014 by Boy King Islands (Diaspora Music, ASCAP & He Heard Himself Say, BMI). Recorded and Mixed by Boy King Islands and Dan Smart at home and at ECHO/NORMAL. Mastered by Matthew Barnhart at Chicago Mastering Company. Design & Layout by Someoddpilot.

Watch the video for "Constellation" by Alex Lewis.