The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


WATCH: Bastardgeist Video
The Quietus , May 10th, 2011 17:16

New Brainlove signing, label boss professes love

You can't really say not to an artist with a name like Bastardgeist, can you? But, it's fair to say, you might not expect him to sound like he does. We were so intrigued by this young man, real name Joel Midden, who sings of violence and sexuality (a kind of flip-Tyler, if you will) that we decided to ask Quietus contributor and Brainlove label boss John Brainlove to explain the story behind his relationship with the artist. These are his words, and a new Bastardgeist video below, along with tour dates.

"I came across Bastardgeist several years ago, on MySpace no less. I had stumbled onto this little scene of bands from Chicago and that area who all had each other in their top friends. I distinctly remember clicking through them all - they had great artwork and interesting texts with their pages - it was obvious that it was a very fertile little scene. Years later, it turned out one of those bands I had listened to was a pre-fame Salem, although they weren't the ones that got my attention at the time.

"That was Bastardgeist. The profile had a weird little story on it - a spooky mini fairytale with no real point to it, in a good way. It was completely white, like a gallery wall, with one of the Jake & Dinos Chapman cocknose sculptures as the profile picture. I was taking all this in, listening to a crackling old orchestral sample on a loop, overdubbed with twinkling sounds and twisted vocals, and just realised there was something really cool and special about this person.

"The more I delved into his stuff, the better it got. The songs were subtle, textural, bass-heavy, all with this trademark sound of what turned out to be kalimba (or thumb piano). Turned out it was by a guy named Joel Midden. We started talking, just generally - about how he worked in a gallery, about how he was having trouble finding a flat because of all the homophobic landlords, and finally about releasing some music. Quite a while later he got back in touch with an album's worth of finished songs, some new and some polished up a bit. It was really breathtaking - having given his music a lot of time already, I'd done the groundwork, if you like, and this was just a perfect presentation of his work.

Bastardgeist - Cabbageheads (Live) from Brainlove on Vimeo.

"Since then, we met finally - he came and played the BRNLV stage at Airwaves last year. Seeing it live was kind of a relief, in a way. It was reassuringly spot-on. In the flat we all hired in Reykjavik, I came in one day and Joel and Ruth Barabe (she was playing with him there) were practicing harmonies... his voice is so beautiful my jaw literally dropped. It's like a finely tuned instrument in itself. I stood there listening for about five minutes until they realised I was there. We drove out into the lava fields later in the week and filmed this:

Bastardgeist - Cabbageheads (Live in Hafnarfjörður, Iceland) from Brainlove on Vimeo.

"Now the record is finally coming out, and he's playing here. We've put together a little tour at the end of May, including dates at Christchurch Cathedral in Oxford and Brainlove Festival in London. He's a really special musician, and like all the guys on the label, I'm proud to be helping him out."

May 20th - London, Club NME (DJ Set)
May 22nd - Norwich, Playhouse Bar (with Octagon Court)
May 23rd - Cardiff, Ten Feet Tall (with Chris T-T / Pagan Wanderer Lu)
May 25th - Oxford, Christchurch Cathedral
May 26th - Newcastle, Culture Lab
May 28th - London, BRNLV Festival (with Meursault, Patterns, Napoleon IIIrd +++)

If you love our features, news and reviews, please support what we do with a one-off or regular donation. Year-on-year, our corporate advertising is down by around 90% - a figure that threatens to sink The Quietus. Hit this link to find out more and keep on Black Sky Thinking.