San Fermin – Tickets – The Roxy Theatre – West Hollywood, CA – April 26th, 2017

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San Fermin

San Fermin

Low Roar

Wednesday April 26

Doors: 7:30 pm / Show: 8:30 pm

$20.00

This event is all ages

San Fermin
San Fermin
San Fermin’s third studio album, Belong, marks a shift in songwriting perspective for bandleader Ellis Ludwig-Leone. “In the past I’d usually write through characters from books or movies, as a way to try to distance myself from what I was writing about,” says the Brooklyn-based artist. “As I’ve become more confident as a songwriter, I decided that I could drop some of the artifice and write something more direct.” In bringing a more personal slant to his music, Ludwig-Leone found himself confronting such matters as disconnection, displacement, and—perhaps most significantly—everyday anxiety. “Anxiety is something I’ve dealt with since I was a kid, but on this album I talked about it more explicitly than I ever had before,” he points out.

Produced by Ludwig-Leone and brought to life by his fellow performers—lead vocalists Charlene Kaye and Allen Tate, trumpet player John Brandon, saxophonist Stephen Chen, violinist Rebekah Durham, drummer Michael Hanf, and guitarists Tyler McDiarmid and Aki Ishiguro—Belong unfolds in warm, intoxicating textures that both contrast and intensify that sense of unrest. The album’s hypnotic sound is embodied in “No Promises,” a shimmering pop opus about the fear of disappointing those who’ve placed their trust in you. On the quietly frenetic “Bride,” San Fermin conveys a fear of commitment by juxtaposing the idyllic imagery of wedding flowers with a detailed account of suffering a panic attack. And with “Dead” (a song about “not wanting anybody to depend on you,” according to Ludwig-Leone), the band telegraphs defiance in a gorgeously jagged arrangement built on clattering rhythms and Kaye’s penetrating vocal performance.

Elsewhere on Belong, San Fermin explores the intersection of desire and danger (on the subtly sinister “August”) and paints a tender portrait of self-destruction (on “Perfume,” a sweeping and cinematic track laced with piercing lines like “You can lose anything that you put your mind to”). On the brightly charged and bravely candid “Better Company,” meanwhile, Tate’s intimate vocals meet with stomping beats and furious strings. “That song is about my lifestyle when I’m not on tour, how I just sit in the basement and work on music and the house is kind of a wreck,” says Ludwig-Leone. “It’s recognizing how I don’t always keep myself the best company.” One of the album’s most powerful tracks, the slow-building “Belong” finds Tate and Kaye trading off verses to conjure up moments of gentle devastation. “‘Belong’ is about loving someone really deeply but also having the sad realization that you’re not always present with them,” says Ludwig-Leone. “But at the same time it’s also saying that that’s not necessarily wrong. It’s about acknowledging the isolation within love.”

Throughout Belong, San Fermin brings both elegance and raw passion to their performance, an achievement that Ludwig-Leone attributes to the band’s increasingly potent chemistry. “One of the nice things about this record was that, for the first time, I was writing for people I know super well and have performed with hundreds of times,” he says. “I feel like I really understand these musicians now and know what they want to do.”

For Ludwig-Leone, one of the greatest joys in making Belong was bearing witness to his band’s evolution. “It’s amazing to me that this thing I started by myself now has a shared consciousness and a life of its own,” he says. Describing Belong as “a record about realizing that you can’t always live with yourself, and finding a way to be okay with that,” Ludwig-Leone also notes that the album allowed him to reexamine the possibilities in songwriting. “There was a catharsis to writing these songs, where I was dealing with stuff that had been bubbling under the surface for a while,” he says. “I don’t think writing actually fixes anything—but it helps you to name the problem and maybe figure out how to live with it, and sometimes that’s enough.”

Originally from Massachusetts and raised by artists, Ludwig-Leone began making music at age eight and later studied music composition at Yale University. After a job assisting composer Nico Muhly, he founded San Fermin and released their full-length debut in 2013, which NPR called “one of the year’s most ambitious, evocative, and moving records.” The band’s sophomore album Jackrabbit arrived in April 2015, debuting at #8 on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart and solidifying the band’s spellbinding live show. Lauded as “explosive” (The New York Times) and “exceptional” (The Wall Street Journal), San Fermin has sold out shows worldwide, appeared at such festivals as Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits, and has opened for the likes of St. Vincent, The National, Arctic Monkeys, and alt-J.
Low Roar
Low Roar
Art echoes the loudest from periods of isolation. Low Roar—the musical vision of Ryan Karazija—turns those moments of solitude into airy and ambient soundscapes materializing into anthemic melodies.
Born in the Bay Area to a mother of Mexican descent and a Lithuanian father, the frontman spent his formative years playing in bands around Northern California before hopping a plane to Iceland where he relocated in 2010. That same year, he recorded Low Roar’s self-titled debut in his Reykjavik kitchen. Quietly building buzz, he cut the critically acclaimed follow-up, 0, in a converted garage during 2014 before going on to grace the stages of Eurosonic, Airwaves France, The Great Escape, ATP, Lowlands, Iceland Airwaves, and beyond.
Along the way, iconic Japanese video game creator Hideo Kojima [Metal Gear] heard Low Roar’s 0 playing while visiting a record store in Reykjavik. Smitten with the sounds, the video game legend requested a personal meeting with Ryan in Los Angeles as Low Roar’s “I’ll Keep Coming” and “Easy Way Out” soundtracked the two high-profile 2016 trailers for Kojima’s Death Stranding video game starring Norman Reedus, Mads Mikkelsen, and director Guillermo del Toro.
Between everything, Ryan Karazija spent most of 2016 by himself—traveling everywhere from Iceland, Sweden, and Poland to the Bay Area and Mexico before settling permanently in Warsaw. During this time, he carefully assembled what would become his third full-length record, Once In A Long Long While [Nevado Music].
“I was alone for most of the process,” Ryan affirms. “It was nice to go to all of these spots. There were a lot of great things that happened, and a lot of bad things that happened. There were really beautiful moments like the birth of my nephew, and there were really hard moments such as going through relationship changes. It helped to get it all out. I don’t think I would’ve made the same record if I was in one place.”
In the midst of his travels, he entered a London studio for a week in April 2016 with longtime collaborator Mike Lindsay [Tunng]. Recording wrapped in Wales at the end of August, with a final three-day session in the studio of producer/mixer Andrew Scheps [Red Hot Chili Peppers, Adele, Hozier].
“This was the first time that Mike, Andrew, and myself had worked and recorded in the same room together. When the record was done, we turned the lights off, put the Christmas lights on, listened, and each had a bourbon. It was pretty emotional.”
Penned in Mexico, “Bones” begins with a delicate piano punctuated by glitches as Ryan sings, “I’m exactly where I want to be, but I’m a long way from home.” As the beat builds, Icelandic songstress Jófríður Ákadóttir adds a haunting and heavenly harmony.
“I was in Sweden until March 1st, [2016] and I wound up in Warsaw, Poland, which brought me full circle,” Ryan recalls. “A recent relationship had just ended. ‘Bones’ tells this story: You’re in a relationship, and you don’t want it to end — but your significant other does. That’s the way it is.”
His voice immediately transfixes on the stark “Without You,” glistening over a gentle cinematic hum. “It was winter in Iceland. I had these big windows. I looked out into the middle of the street and saw somebody standing alone. That’s how the song started.”
The tambourine shuffle and off-kilter keys of “Give Me An Answer” tensely mount in tandem with Ryan’s infectious delivery. “It’s a little cocky and cheeky lyrically, but not too over-the-top,” he smiles. “It’s one of the most direct songs, pushing for that person to respond.”
Ultimately, Once In A Long Long While reflects Low Roar at Ryan’s rawest. “I just needed to get these songs out,” he leaves off. “I was documenting my life as it was happening.”