Stefa Marin Alarcón Talks to The Cut // New York Magazine

📷  Shaniqwa Jarvis

📷 Shaniqwa Jarvis

The Artist Pushing the Boundaries of Classical Music

Meet Stefa Marin Alarcón.

By Sarah Spellings and Diana Tsui Photographs By Shaniqwa Jarvis

“At first brush, Stefa Marin Alarcón is your average super talented, bubbly artist who wears fun colorful wigs and cool outfits on Instagram. The layers and moodiness reveal themselves when you listen to her music. Alarcón is a vocalist and performer who blends choral music with art pop and neo-soul sounds. Her music is conceptual, but it’s clear when you listen that her songs are super personal as well. “In my work, I question who gets deemed ‘classical’ and who doesn’t,” Alarcón told the Cut. “I’m definitely influenced by my Eurocentric classical training, whereas I wasn’t passed down all this music that was part of my lineage so I’ve had to look for it myself.” For her video performances, she plays a character who represents her “ancestors, myself, and the generations that will come after me.” We spoke with her about meditation as a superpower, vulnerability, and arepas.

What is your most used emoji? The alien.

If you could spend three months anywhere, where would it be? Where the mountains meet the ocean. It would be a space where I can make as much noise as I want or be as quiet as I want.

If you had a superpower, what would it be? I feel like meditation is almost a superpower. I wish I was really good at that and able to tune out the world.

What is the best album ever made? It hasn’t been written yet, because it’s mine that will come out later.

What’s your go-to karaoke song? “Zombie” by the Cranberries.

Who is someone you think is cool? All my friends are really cool. They’re trying earnestly to be the best people they can be and hold each other up.”



Read the full interview at

STEFA*'s "Una Casita [Part 2]" video single drops via Fader + An Interview


STEFA*’s “Una Casita” video visualizes a home for people to ‘exist without fear’

The track is a standout from the Colombian-American singer’s Sepalina EP.


March 21, 2019

“Halfway through our conversation, tears started to stream down STEFA*’s cheeks. The 29-year-old Colombian-American singer, who mixes her classically trained voice with electronics and traditional folk chants, was visibly moved by the idea that her ancestors could be speaking through her. “Sometimes when I’m singing, I feel like I’m channeling them,” said the artist, whose birth name is Stefa Marin Alarcon. “And I feel like they’re healing through [my music].” Her new video for the song “Una Casita,” which is premiering exclusively today on the FADER, imagines a spiritual home where this healing could actually take place.

“The song is a standout track from her 2018 debut EP, Sepalina, and its simple lyrics are driven by her yearning for a home that defies capitalism and patriarchy. “Everyone is searching for that,” she told me, “Everyone wants to exist without fear and without shame.” To that end, the video is overflowing with gorgeous images of the artist in the home of her dreams, where she can bask in soft repose.

“As a child of immigrants, home has always been a crucial concept for STEFA*. Her parents abandoned their lives in Pereira, Colombia and immigrated to the Bronx in the 80s. They left behind cyclical poverty and violence, as well as their loved ones and an illustrious family culture. STEFA*, born and raised in Elmhurst, Queens around other immigrant families from places like China, Thailand, Ecuador, and India, is using her art to build bridges between the struggle her parents left behind in Colombia and the battle she faces here in the United States.

“From an early age, her parents recognized that she had an indomitable voice. “I was always singing,” she told me, “and I was always in tune.” But her teachers directed her to sing in the classical European tradition, and so she spent nearly 20 years mastering French arias and the works of Russian composers. It wasn’t until after she graduated from college that she started to reclaim the music of her people. “It really shifted for me during the summer of the Ferguson protests,” she told me. She began to wonder why she wasn’t using her art to say something about the horrors of oppression that were impacting black and brown people in America and across the globe. “I couldn’t keep using my body and voice to tell those Eurocentric stories, because they’re not my story,” she told me. “I just needed to make my own shit.” From there, she developed a unique musical process that incorporates improvisation and loops with indigenous folk music. And of course, it’s all anchored by her soaring and emotive voice.

“I spoke with the STEFA* a bit more about the development of her stunning new video for “Una Casita” and the healing she hopes it can encourage.

Read the full interview at

mammifères offers 30 copies of debut album "Olema" on vinyl, hand-cut by guitarist henry ott




mammifères' forthcoming album is inspired by the beautiful peninsula off the California coast where bandleader Lukas Papenfusscline was raised. mammifères—“mammals” in French—is Steve Conroy on bass, Aiden Farrell on drums, Henry Ott on guitar, and frequently features guests on saxophone, keyboard, violin, and clarinet.

Led by the fearless Lukas Papenfusscline, this ensemble is dedicated to rekindling and recomposing folk music from a variety of sources. These urban mammals create holy mess by crafting new tunes based on field recordings, manuscripts, and learned songs from years past, refurbishing them the musical languages of the future. Equally comfortable with American folk as with medieval chant, the group pulls from improvisation, noise, jazz, queer culture, and contemporary performance to create their sound. 

Produced by Lily Wen, the album was recorded by Peter Atkinson in a makeshift studio in Boston—formerly Blue Jay Studios—and comprises nine traditional American and British songs, mainly from the late 1800s or older (or unknown). Limited to 30 hand-cut vinyl copies, the 12-inch LP release features a 12-page photo journal and two sticker landscapes. There is also a limited run of 50 standalone photo booklets created by Alia Wilhelm in conversation with the musicians.


Follow these mammals around @mammiferesband & visit their online abode at 🐐


77 copies of Relatives' 7th album "Strange We Fall" Handmade Lyric Chapbooks Available now


On August 31, 2018, Figure & Ground releases Strange We Fall, a small collection of seven original songs by Relatives. Produced, engineered and mixed by Lily Wen, the record was recorded over two days in a storefront studio in Ditmas Park. The release features a limited edition 7x7 chapbook handmade by Ian featuring artwork by David Foarde.



Katie adds: “there was a quicker turnaround than usual between writing and recording; these songs still feel really fresh. What these songs are about, at least for me, are subjects I’m still processing. So, even the process of recording was part of working through. That was kind of strange. Usually, we’ll have worked on songs for a couple years and then record them.”

“Simplicity and repetition was on our mind,” says Ian. “But we were pretty responsive to each other. I feel like it was a lot of back and forth on this one too—someone would bring an idea, and then it’d turn into another song, and that’s with a quick turnaround, when it’s fresh. The nature of the last couple albums were more slow and cumulative, and over time we had these songs that just sort of materialized. I think it was a pretty short period of time when Katie and I were just sort of firing things back and forth—this summer and into the fall.”


Relatives RELEASE "I Can't Wait Forever" stop-motion Video by Aiden Farrell

From their forthcoming album Strange We Fall, out August 31.

Directed and painted by Aiden Garabed Farrell

WARNING: This video contains flashing colors and strobe and may affect people with photosensitive epilepsy. View Discretion is advised.

Written and sung by ian mclellan davis & Katie Vogel

Produced, engineered & mixed by Lily Wen

💽 Listen to the album + buy the “Strange We Fall” chapbook here.

Strange We Fall came about by “not over-fussing for too long about something and just kind of seeing what comes out,” says ian. “I think we can get pretty ahead of ourselves sometimes and it’s more complex than we intend it to be. This was an attempt to really simplify and try the same idea for a while. And just coast, you know?”

Katie adds: “there was a quicker turnaround than usual between writing and recording; these songs still feel really fresh. What these songs are about, at least for me, are subjects I’m still processing. So, even the process of recording was part of working through. That was kind of strange. Usually, we’ll have worked on songs for a couple years and then record them.”

Indiecurrent Premieres STEFA*'s Debut Video Single "Sepalina"

Queens-Raised Colombian Vocalist STEFA* Unearths the Past on “Sepalina”

“STEFA* describes her six-track debut EP as “music to listen to while everything is burning down.” It’s a more than accurate description for lead single and EP title track “Sepalina,” a chilling, post-apocalyptic meditation on identity that taps into STEFA’s Colombian-Indigenous roots. Sepalina takes inspiration from a shocking family secret involving her grandmother, personal mysteries still halfway unsolved. We’re pleased to premiere STEFA’s striking music video for “Sepalina.” Co-directed by Cristobal Guerra Naranjo and STEFA*, these avant-garde visuals were filmed in Ayampe, Ecuador, Bear Mountain, New York, and Brooklyn. Watch the powerful new video above.” —Angel E. Fraden, Indiecurrent

Bogie Kaufman Mann Release instrumental Vol. 1 on Custom hand-cut 45s


ATTN: Beats for sale!

We are offering custom hand-cut vinyl 45s featuring two tracks of your choice.

Reserve one before it's too late — orders close once the record hits the digital world on June 29!

— custom hand-cut 7-inch vinyl 45s with picture sleeves

— includes an exclusive interview transcript with the trio

These grooves will be hand-carved specifically for you.

“Don't let your idea of what you think should happen get in the way of what's already happening.” - a note from Geoff Mann to himself, on his floor tom, 15 years ago.

Bogie Kaufman Mann’s Volume 1 is a record of improvisations that don’t sound like improvisations. In stark contrast to what Stuart Bogie describes as the “bizarre addiction to acoustic control” that usually goes along with recordings of skilled improvisers, Volume 1 is truly free - blissfully ignoring the conventions that dictate even improvised music. With a trio composed of guitar, woodwinds, and percussion, each musician is able to occupy primarily one space - melodic, harmonic, rhythmic - allowing the three of them to create incredibly full, detailed compositions in real time, with no overdubs. Produced by D. James Goodwin at his studio The Isokon in Woodstock, NY, the result is lean and clear, with each musician selflessly playing into the mood of each piece.

The players themselves have resumes that could fill ten album descriptions - Stuart Bogie, in addition to leading his own energetic pop project Superhuman Happiness, is a highly sought after arranger, and has performed with Arcade Fire, TV on the Radio, Wu Tang Clan, and Iron and Wine; Josh Kaufman has produced albums for Josh Ritter, Hold Steady frontman Craig Finn, and Grateful Dead co-founder Bob Weir, and collaborated with both The National and The War on Drugs on their critically acclaimed 2017 albums; and Geoff Mann currently drums in LA psych-rock band Here Lies Man in addition to having worked extensively in film and TV scoring and playing alongside Bogie in legendary afrobeat ensemble Antibalas. They came together in this incarnation partly out of a reaction to so much densely structured work, out of a desire to create something more open, and you can hear the joy of that freedom all over the result.

Still, experience in producing records has left its mark on the way they approach improvisation - a strong minimalist streak runs through Volume 1. As Kaufman says, “You can get so stuck in the studio going over the same take with more ideas covering up the ideas that you were originally inspired by, and what was cool about this is that we didn't do that.” Mann: “We wanted to feel like it was a group improvisation all the time, so there was never really a lot of soloing going on - there was a lot of trioing going on.” Playing at low volume, set up close to one another in the same room, headphone-free, they tracked the whole record in two days with Goodwin adding effects and processing in real time, a testament to what can be accomplished with deep listening and collaboration.  


Volume 1, due June 29, is the first in an archival series of improvised recordings by the trio to be released on Figure & Ground. Each record is a document of a particular time and place - tracked live with no overdubs and very few edits, and released alongside an interview with the artists. The series documents moments stolen from dense working schedules, small islands in their longstanding musical relationship.


Michael Rocketship's debut album "Meaning of Love" Tapes Available in Silver + Gold

The Meaning of Love follows a long series of seven self-released Rocketship EPs that feature an assortment of musicians and bands. All of the EPs were recorded and/or mixed by Michael at Figure 8 Recording, a studio he manages in Prospect Heights. Beyond Rocketship Reality, Michael Coleman’s discography runs deep and runs wide. After touring as Chris Cohen’s keyboard player for a year and a half, Michael now performs primarily with Sam Evian, Ian Davis: Rock Band, and Renata Zeiguer, who created a stop-motion video for the album’s first single, “Smith, St. John & Pierre.”

On April 6, Figure & Ground releases these songs in final form as Michael Rocketship’s debut LP The Meaning of Love, comprising 11 original tracks written, performed, mixed, and produced by Coleman. In his words, “the thematic material of the album is being alienated from the places you live and how stupid our society seems to have become."

ThrdCoast calls Meaning of Love "a string of blissful pop tracks"


“Glitzed up by the perfectionist grind of working in a professional studio, the final product of a record—that taut slab of vinyl slapped onto your turntable and the compressed stream of compacted waveforms meant to serve as its digital analogue—is often a carefully constructed method of escaping the agonizing process by which it was created. The endless hours of re-amping previously recorded parts, the ravenous EQ-ing of each sound nugget, the paranoid adding and subtracting of new elements, hoping to stumble on that bulletproof arrangement that will make the idea in your head understandable to strange ears. Any artist who’s been through that ringer of self-doubt knows it all too well.

”For Michael Coleman, recording under his Michael Rocketship moniker for Meaning of Love, the answer was to set up a kind of improvisational workshop. Waiting til the end to edit the results and even then spending just a week mixing it down, Coleman/Rocketship flexed his abstract pop chops on a month-long binge of recording one song a day, tuning his ear to whatever melodies and lyrics happened upon him in the moment. The result is a record where process and product merge seamlessly, slathered in a healthy dose of humid, tape-hiss fizz. From start to finish, Meaning of Love is an escapist fantasy come to life, a celebration of freedom within self-imposed confines.”


Read the full review at

"No Regreso" Music Video Premiere on Okayafrica's Best Music of the Week

“Let's take things to Colombia with this new music video from Combo Chimbita, self-described "tropical futurists playing cumbia-not-cumbia." The magical video, which is premiering here with us today, follows a young boy from the Afro-Colombian community of Santa Cruz del Islote, as he finds a mysterious jaguar mask.”

See the full list at

STEFA*'s Debut EP "Sepalina" Out Now





Inspired by STEFA*’s family and secrets that are still only partially revealed, Sepalina tells the tale of a native alien and how she came to inhabit this planet, washed up on shore in the present, stripped of her memories and her language.

“My mother recently uncovered things about my grandmother’s life that has shocked the entire family – she’s become this mystery character who can't speak for herself because she’s gone, and so everyone is trying to piece together her story. I was told my indigenous side comes from her, so I started researching the tribe she was from, the Emberá-Chamí.”

She describes: “I felt I had to go back in time in order to begin to understand my present. I started looking up anything I could find online of the Emberá people — chants, songs — I found one and tried transcribing what they were singing, listening and writing down whatever vowel sounds and phrases I could hear forming – and so I transcribed ‘Sepalina’.”



"There’s this Pablo Neruda quote that translated into English says: You can cut all the flowers but you can’t keep Spring from coming.’ I thought of all these uprisings around the world and the fact that we are no longer okay with being oppressed or marginalized.

"We have enough language, knowledge and ways to spread information around that we’re becoming stronger – that’s what they’re so afraid of, the governments and these powers. And so that was the connection that I made between those worlds – and Sepalina – but I don’t know what it means. I haven’t given it a direct narrative.”

Growing up, STEFA* sang in choir and had profound experiences blending her voice with groups: “I’d sing these very epic pieces as a 15 year old girl. When I started going into my solo work, I wanted to replicate that feeling I had when I was in a chorus and I was singing one harmony line and there were four other lines around me and 80 other voices and yet, it felt like one voice. So that’s how I got into looping and harmonizing with myself. I thought, how do I just rely on myself and how do I become this chorus and this orchestra of voices? 


"Abya Yala Is A Futuristic Afro-Latinx Fantasy" says The Fader


Combo Chimbita’s Debut Album Abya Yala Is A Futuristic Afro-Latinx Fantasy

The New York band fuse the indigenous art of storytelling with musical styles from Latin America and the Caribbean.


Combo Chimbita is an eclectic quartet comprised of first-generation New Yorkers from Colombia. Their debut album Abya Yala, which is premiering today on The FADER, draws inspiration from Afro-Latinx and Caribbean musical styles including cumbia, salsa, and reggae.

It opens with a cumbia track called "Dame Tu Mano," which translates as "give me your hand." Over a looped bass line and clanking cowbell, frontwoman Carolina Oliveros soulfully belts a tale about searching for an inner light in her life — leading her band to embark on a spiritual journey throughout the album. Some other noteworthy tracks include the mournful yet danceable "No Regreso" and the hectic, percussion-led "Congo."

"We recorded the album live in the room without headphones, with Carolina's vocals and guacharaca over the PA and Prince of Queens looping his bass, and then overdubbing background vocals," Combo Chimbita told The FADER in an email. "On the second night out of the three-day session, [we] went into an hour-long musical trance to create the sonic story of Abya Yala, told through the album's interludes."


Listen at

Remezcla Talks with Combo Chimbita & Premieres "No Regreso"

Check out this amazing feature exploring Combo Chimbita's Tropical Futurism & their forthcoming album Abya Yala.

"Combo Chimbita describe themselves as “tropical futurists.” Their experimental psychedelic jams have cumbia as a starting point, but draw on everything from champeta and porros to Afropop, calypso, dub, and even Haitian kompa. The trippy “No Regreso,” off their forthcoming debut album Abya Yala, sounds like what would happen if Lee “Scratch” Perry produced a cumbia record with a little input from Ennio Morricone. “No Regreso” premieres today on Remezcla, and it sounds simultaneously forward-thinking and retro. There’s a certain freaky, punky energy that’s very New York City.

Inspired by Sun Ra and the concept of Afrofuturism, the members are envisioning a sound that broadly centers the global south: Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America. “It means imagining a future with a cosmology derived from our ancestry, from our understanding of the world, instead of the Eurocentric version of how the future is supposed to be. It means seeing it and constructing it from a different perspective and a different way of seeing the world,” says guitarist Niño Lento, in an in-person interview with lead singer and guacharaquera Carolina Oliveros, and synth player and bassist Prince of Queens (In this band, they use stage names, though avid NYC-based music heads may recognize them from other projects). The band members don’t know what the tropical future looks like, but they are pretty sure it has more to do with reconnecting to the earth than blasting off into the stars. They are searching for the answers through their music."

Read more at Remezcla...

Sounds and Colours Premieres Combo Chimbita's "Ampárame"


By Gina Vergel - 16 May, 2017

New York City’s Combo Chimbita is set to release their debut full-length album Abya Yala on the 21st of June via Figure & Ground and they’ve given us a preview single for us to share with the masses.

The quartet, which consists of lead singer Carolina Oliveros and three mystery men (seriously) have a crafty way of describing themselves: Tropical futurism, psychedelic cumbia-not-cumbia.

[Read more @ Sounds and Colours]


Les Yper Sound release party in the basement

Back to the place where it all began.....

Says Jas Walton, "If our songs are omelettes, The Basement is where we cracked every single egg. It's been holy ground in my mind for going on seven years, since first meeting and working with Miles Arntzen back in the NYU days."

On November 11, join us for this intimate occasion in the West Village - a free listening dance party, live performance, and release celebration in the spot where much of "Explorations in Drums & Sax" was conceived and recorded. 

At 9:00pm sharp we will drop the needle on the Les Yper Sound LP for a listening session and boogie to all 14 tracks (with some surprise live song re-creates). As the night continues, Miles & Jas will perform special duo improv instrumentals on drums & sax, weaving between different songs. 

Musique concrete will usher in the after-hours downstairs hang, and you'll be able to pick up a copy of Figure & Ground's sophomore release " Explorations in Drums & Sax" on vinyl fthe first time, an album of intergalactic instrumentals by New York Afrobeat players Miles & Jas collaborating with Money Mark & Sinkane.

East of 8th PREMIEREs hand-held “EASTERN PARKWAY” video single

“Once upon a time, two New York session musicians, drummer Miles Arntzen (Antibalas, Will Butler, EMEF) and sax player Jas Walton (Leon Bridges, Sinkane, Father Figures)—who both currently play in the Afrobeat ensemble Antibalas—began experimenting with their respective instruments in Arntzen’s Greenwich Village basement. The duo hunkered down to compose demos that were made up of percussion, woodwinds, and the offbeat sounds of everyday objects–a style of recording and manipulating common ‘non-musical’ sounds born in Paris during the 1940s and dubbed “musique concrète” (pronounced moo-ZEEK kohn-KRET), which seeped into pop music in the mid-‘60s, and is now a staple of mainstream music.

While touring with Luaka Bop’s William Onyeabor supergroup Atomic Bomb!, Walton met Beastie Boys’ synth masterMoney Mark and Sudanese-pop artist Ahmed Gallab (Sinkane, Caribou, Of Montreal, Yeasayer). In March, the four of them convened in Brooklyn to record under the project name Les Yper Sound, titled after Pierre Henry’s 1967 musique concrète EP. This studio-oriented team of multi-instrumentalists—who are all producers in their own right—digested Miles and Jas’s original basement demos and began improvising new works, featuring sounds made by objects like coffee makers and coins, during sessions at Shahzad Ismaily’s new studio in Brooklyn.

On November 4th, Les Yper Sound will release its 14-track sophomore effort, Explorations in Drums & Sax, via Figure & Ground Records; the album is an all-instrumental journey through numerous genre-crossing worlds, produced by Lily Wen (Dust & Grooves), engineered and mixed by Eli Crews (tUnE-yArDs, Yoko Ono, Lorde), and is a hat-tip to the novelty of recorded sounds back when they were still weird and way out.

East of 8th is proud to premiere the video for album track “Eastern Parkway”, comprised of raw footage field video of spliced together with a front seat late night car journey along Eastern Parkway, featuring Walton on sax (recorded by Money Mark). ‘This video is a crystallized example of what the musique concrète process can yield,’ explains Walton of the video. 'Walking around Brooklyn on a chilly night, getting different sounds and timbres remotely depending on the spacial environment – that is what makes musique concrète interesting.’”

east of 8th

Flea Market Funk Premieres Les Yper Sound's "RSVP"

“Today we have another premiere, and this time it’s a supergroup of sorts. Les Yper Sound are comprised of Miles Arntzen and Jas Walton from Antibalas, Beastie Boy collaborator Money Mark, and Sudanese artist Sinkane. All bad ass musicians in their own right, these four got together in a Brooklyn basement and Les Yper Sound were born. Performing the style known as “musique concrète”, made popular in Paris in the 1940’s by reco"rding sounds of every day objects (the group’s name comes from Pierre Henry’s 1967 musique concrète EP), this all instrumental fourteen track record is definitely a cool project. With today’s technology in recording, it seems like this process has creeped into today’s recording process, and on Explorations in Drums & Sax they give a nod to the cheeky, novelty sounds that were ground breaking back then. Recording everything from coins, a coffeemaker, tape head stylus and the like, the songs were built around these everyday items and highlights the drums and sax with built in melodies from said items. Eclectic? Yes. Groovy? You bet.

We would just start with an improvisational sound, do that for three minutes, build a song around it, and then maybe at the end of the whole thing, you can’t even hear that first thing anymore but it’s a part of everything else that happened around it.

“RSVP” is a cover or reworking of sorts of the Money Mark tune “Invitation” from Mark’s Keyboard Repair. This upbeat take is unique and has a tight groove (and the breakdown with the found objects is aces). Part Yusef Lateef, part free jazz, and plenty funky, “RSVP” is intergalactic space travel without leaving our atmosphere. It’s infectious groove will leave you head nodding. Before you know it, it’s time to press play once again, because you can’t just listen to it once. File this under funky jazz with a world influence, and while you’re at it also file it under fire because this is a hot commodity. Funk comes in many different forms, and if you dream it up, it will work. These four have come up with the perfect recipe and homage to the style. This is Figure & Ground Records sophomore release after the Jas Walton/ Alan Watts 10″ Face The Facts. This new release on the label will have a Limited Edition of 500 copies on coke clear vinyl. Check out the track below, and pre-order the entire record after that.”

Pre-Order the record on Figure & Ground, out November 4th here.

Keep Diggin’!

Afropop Worldwide premieres First Single "Potato Brain"!

“The music you’re about to hear connects the dots between 1960s’ French experimental musique concrete and hard-hitting, New York-style instrumental Afro-funk. Listen to the Afropop exclusive premiere of the single, “Potato Brain,” from Les Yper Sound.

“Les Yper Sound is a new project, the brainchild of drummer Miles Arntzen and sax player Jas Walton, founders of the now-defunct EMEFE, and current members of long-running Brooklyn-based Afrobeat band Antibalas. Collaborations with the legendary producer Money Mark of the Beastie Boys and Ahmed Gallab–leader of Sinkane–turned this basement exploration into a full-fledged album project. Explorations in Drums and Sax comes out Nov. 4 on Figure and Ground Records.

“‘Potato Brain’ is heavy instrumental funk tune, with some influences from Afrobeat. Living up to the name and aim of the record, the track is jumping with pocket-groove drums, blended with kitchen-sink percussion, and topped with layered saxophone lines and bubbling electronics.

Read the full review at