ORANGE Asks: Levitation

Things are about to take a trippy turn at Carson Creek Ranch next weekend, when Levitation Festival comes to  Austin with some of the most psychedelic touring bands in tow.

Story by Amy Fennie and Rachel Rascoe

To get ourselves in the spirit, ORANGE Music staff asked our favorite Levitation artists to reveal their silliest and most intimate selves. Check out their responses below and be sure to catch them at the three-day festival, which runs from April 29-May 1.  

La Luz

  Photo courtesy of Suicide Records

Photo courtesy of Suicide Records

The Seattle-based female quartet is made up of guitarist Shana Cleveland, Alice Sandahl on keys, Abbey Blackwell on bass and Marian Li-Pino on drums. All four girls provide vocals for their unique brand of doo-wop surf rock. Word on the street is that their shows feature tons of crowd surfing and stage dives, so be sure to catch their set on Friday at the Levitation Amphitheater stage.

Which album can you not stop listening to right now?

Shana: "The Ancient Forest Band from the Ole Beck,” an album so live you can smell the beer stained floors and hear the songs being written. I listen to this everyday on my headphones when we're on tour.

Marian:  Alvvays is on heavy rotation for me right now.  

Lena: I have recently been in a revisiting phase and brought back Autolux's "Future Perfect.”

What was your favorite song in middle school?

Shana: Nirvana's cover of "The Man Who Sold the World."

Marian: “Goodbye Earl” by the Dixie Chicks.

Lena: I'll go with my cool answer. "Black Dog" by Led Zeppelin.

When and where was your first kiss?

Shana: I don't remember, but probably in the basement of my first boyfriend's mom's house.

Marian: Pretty sure it was in my BFF's basement in middle school.  

Lena: I think it was a game of spin the bottle at my friend’s post-fifth grade "graduation" after party. Very unromantic.

What color is your music?

Shana: Tear-clear.

Marian:  Red, white and sea foam green.

Lena: Swimming pool blue against a black backdrop.

What food best describes your band?

Shana: Blue moon ice cream.

Marian: Something messy but delicious. Lasagna?

Lena: I'll take the coconut ice cream option.

Ultimate Painting 

  Photo courtesy of Trouble in Mind Records

Photo courtesy of Trouble in Mind Records

Songwriters James Hoare and Jack Cooper make up surf rock duo Ultimate Painting. The two bonded while touring together with their other bands, Mazes and Veronica Falls. Their light, understated tunes are sure to provide the ultimate mid-day chillout on Saturday at the Reverberation Stage. ORANGE talked to Cooper about music, childhood and beautiful cities.

What was your worst vacation?

I got Salmonella in Majorca when I was 6 and nearly died. I guess that was pretty bad. It stopped me from eating baked beans until very recently, which isn't easy if you're British.

What food best describes your band?

Just a really nice buffet. The sort your mum throws together at Christmas. A decent spread.

What’s the best gift anyone has ever given you?

James just gave me a Gem Combo organ for my birthday, which takes a lot of beating.

What’s your favorite city?

I really love Utrecht and Groningen in the Netherlands. We're always made to feel very welcome there and have a great time. In the U.S. I have family in D.C., so I really feel at home there. Anywhere with cold beer really.

What was your favorite toy when you were little?

My grandad once asked me if I wanted something from the toy store, and I said a Knight Rider car, KITT. He came back with the A-Team van and said that the A-Team were Knight Rider's cousins. I never figured out how that would work, but it was always my favorite.

Amerikan Bear

 Photo courtesy of Suzie Rome

Photo courtesy of Suzie Rome

Six-piece psych group Amerikan Bear stay true to their California roots with a psychedelic soul sound and 1960s influences. The San Diego band is headed to Austin to play the Elevation Amphitheater stage Friday for their second year in a row playing the festival. Lead singer and guitarist Nathan Wettstead talked music with ORANGE, also stating that an interview with a college-based publication is the closest he’ll ever come to an honest education.

What’s your most treasured article of clothing?

Sore subject. Ask the last bass player I kicked out (insert laughter and clapping here).

What’s your favorite city?

Outside of where I live in San Diego, I’d honestly have to say Austin. Although, that heat takes some getting used to. Not too fat-guy-friendly.

What album can you not stop listening to right now?

Well, that’s almost a loaded question in my book. So there’s a couple. McDonald and Giles’ 1971 self-titled release. It’s just, well, listen to it and tell me you aren't moved. As well as Connan Mockasin and Holy Wave. Two really solid acts that always bring [something] newer and better to the table with each additional release. It seems to be the background music at the pad more often than not.

What was your favorite toy when you were little?

Any that weren't lost, buried or broken.

What was your favorite song in middle school?

“1983... (A Merman I Should Turn to Be)” by Jimi Hendrix.

The Rotten Mangos

 Photo courtesy of Facebook

Photo courtesy of Facebook

Guitarist Ramiro Verdooren and drummer Cristian Sigler front psychedelic lo-fi band The Rotten Mangos, along with Austin musicians Christian Kues and Jim Campo. Power duo Verdooren and Sigler relocated from McAllen, Texas to infuse the Austn with their psych-pop sound and dynamic live performances. The band will perform Sunday the the Elevation Amphitheater.

What was your favorite song in middle school?

Sigler: “I'm Only Sleeping (Take 1) (Mono)” by The Beatles off Anthology Volume 2.

Verdooren: “Third Stone From The Sun" by The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

What food best describes your band?

Sigler: A spicy chicken banh mi from Saigon Le Vendeur off East 7th [Street] sums it up. No jalapeños.

Verdooren: Anything that won't make you gag.

What album can you not stop listening to right now?

Sigler: “Nothing Has Changed” by David Bowie, disc 1 preferably.

Verdooren: Our new album!

What’s your favorite city?

Sigler: Mcallen, Texas.

Verdooren: Austin, Texas (no joke).

Where were you when you found out that you were playing Levitation?

Sigler: At an ATM.

Verdooren: Mother's Cafe.

JJUUJJUU

  Photo courtesy of Bandcamp.

Photo courtesy of Bandcamp.

JJUUJJUU is a definitive example of what a “psychedelic” band is. The band describes itself as an “astral union, an arcane ritual and above all, a conversation” that harnesses “an unspoken energy.” Currently, the LA-based project is comprised of three members, but the band is constantly evolving and has had a revolving cast of members. Phil Pirrone is the permanent fixture in the ensemble – here’s what he had to say:

What album can you not stop listening to right now?

New Autolux.

What was your favorite song in middle school?

“Take Warning” by Operation Ivy.

What color is your music?

It's like an iridescent bluish purplish gold.

What food best describes your band?

A layer cake.

What’s your weirdest tour experience?

Running from the cops in Germany through the venue and taking refuge in the headlining band’s tour bus until the cops just gave up and left.

Dungen

  Photo courtesy of Kevin Krein

Photo courtesy of Kevin Krein

Swedish psych band Dungen has taken many forms throughout frontman Gustav Ejstes’ nearly twenty years of making music. The current four-piece lineup will release their first album in 5 years, Allas Sak, in September through Mexican Summer Records. The band made a debut performance earlier last year at France’s Levitation Festival. ORANGE asked singer and multi-instrumentalist Gustav Ejstes about his top picks for cities and tunes.

What food best describes your band?

Some say they will only eat one burger a week and end up eating two every day, some are strict vegetarian and some has to eat yogurt for breakfast otherwise they end up with ilius. Everyone is down for great drinks though.

What’s your favorite city?

Marfa, Texas during the day and Stockholm by night. I love my own bed so much.

What's the most memorable thing to ever happen on tour?

What if all our equipment disappeared and the only option would be borrowing stuff from Jean Michel Jarre? Pretty memorable.

When/where was your first kiss?

Hopefully next tour it will finally happen.

What album can you not stop listening to right now?

“Adress Rosenhill” by Stefan Borsch and “Left Hand Path” by Entombed