Session 240: Wilder Maker // LASKA

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Adria ShittyPoster 2019 square F Poster Design: Adria Kaufman

October 02, 2019

Multi-instrumentalist Gabriel Birnbaum grew up in a family of musicians, playing with blocks under the piano while his older brother practiced Chopin, begging for his parents to spin Paul Simon’s Graceland on the record player one more time before bed. After years exploring jazz and free improvisation on saxophone, he began experimenting with songwriting and home recording, eventually moving to Brooklyn, NY from Boston to pursue music further, joining Ethiopian ensemble Debo Band and playing with artists as diverse as Sharon Van Etten, Dina El Wedidi, Mutual Benefit, Khaira Arby, Katie Von Schleicher, Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, Will Stratton, & Ancient Ocean.

These collaborations with artists ranging from Egyptian pop to drone to indie rock have created a dense web of connections and references from which Birnbaum wrings his songs, with Bob Dylan and Neil Young standing shoulder to shoulder with Mahmoud Ahmed and Pharaoh Sanders, and lyrics that chase the highs and lows of life in NYC, on the margins of the cool kids club, blazing your own weird path, doubting and despairing but always creating. Along the way, the band has been praised in Spin, Noisey, Stereogum, Paste, described on NPR as “an indie gem” and on Pitchfork as a “cracked Americana combo.”

Birnbaum’s songs find expression through longtime collaborators Sean Mullins (Kevin Garrett) on drums; and Nick Jost (Baroness) on bass, sometimes joined by Katie Von Schleicher on keyboards/vocals and Adam Brisbin on guitar. Their New Streets 7″ was released summer 2017 as a part of Saddle Creek’s Document series, and a full length LP, Zion, was their first release after signing to Northern Spy Records.

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Formed in 2016, Midwestern based LASKA crafts music with a blend of intricate vocal harmonies, sweeping instrumentals, and profound lyricism. Sisters, Hannah Mae, Bex, and Mookie Morton balance ingenuity with classic storytelling to create a unique sound that blurs lines between genres and resonates with listeners from any background. In Spring of 2019, LASKA will push their sound into a new chapter with the release of "in the blossom of this," an EP exploring the sisters' ever-evolving understanding of the people they love and the world around them. The Mortons along with Evan Middlesworth (producer/guitar), Noah Kittleson (percussion), and Robbie Weisshaar (bass guitar) will spend the remainder of 2019 touring in support of the EP. The band is currently at work on a full length album slated for release in 2020.

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