Thursday, 26 August 2010


CALVIN JOHNSON, poster boy for the DIY ethos, and founder of both K Records and original lo-fi instigators Beat Happening, is probably the reason nerdy guys in decrepit cardigans get girls. Kurt Cobain famously tattooed the K records symbol on his person and that’s not even the most impressive thing the history books have got on him.

As his latest solo incarnation, The Hive Dwellers (and with just his idiosyncratic voice and a pink guitar for company) Johnson transfixed - at his BYOB Upset the Rhythm set. Or should that be BYOM? We saw one couple drinking milk. Drinking milk at lo-fi gigs as an acceptably hip affectation is probably part of Johnson’s so-wack-it’s-cool legacy too.

Charlotte Jansen
speaks to Seattle’s second most important music brat:

Your performance was meticulously executed: do you feel confident on stage?

Being on stage feels perfectly comfortable. More comfortable than anywhere else.

Do you feel you've achieved what you wanted to with your music?

Yes. Good songs have been made up and performed.

There are moments of comedy and also intense sadness in your songs - for example, Sitting Alone at the Movies. Do you feel comfortable in society?

The aim is to inject some levity even in the most serious of situations. Humour is a wonderful antidote to most of the world’s woes.

What is it about underground culture that appeals to you?

The beauty of underground culture is that people express themselves in ways that are not oriented towards mainstream appeal. This gives them the latitude to be honest in ways that would not be possible if they are chasing after a lowest common denominator approach.

Who are your favourite musicians?

Billy Childish, Tender Trap

Johnson’s band The Hive Dwellers have a 12” single, Get In, coming out on K which includes remixes of “Sitting Alone at the Movies”. You can read about their April tour here.

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