Bandcamp App Update, Now with Search, Music Discovery K-Hole

You can now dig through Bandcamp’s catalog of 1.4 million albums and 10.7 million tracks, right from the app. Search for artists and fans, too:

Search for albums, tracks, artists and fans

You can also now tap on any fan image in the new “supported by” section below the music in your collection, and then listen to that fan’s full collection (this is an awesome way to discover new music):

Tap on fans to listen to their collection

For items in your collection, you can pick your favorite track, and tell the artist and your followers why you love that record:

Add your favorite track and comment

And finally, if you still haven’t set an image for yourself, you can now do that from the app too (it’s in Settings):

Set your fan bio image for maximum fun

Do I need a fan account for all this? Yes, details here.

I already have a Bandcamp artist account, can I sign up for a fan account too? Yes. If you’d like your artist and fan account to be one and the same (e.g., you’re a solo artist and don’t want to maintain separate logins), make sure you’re logged in to your artist account, and then sign up here.

I’m an artist, is there anything I should do to improve my appearance in search? Yes, please visit Bandcamp from a desktop machine, go to your profile, and make sure you’ve set your bio image. We’ll show it in search results, your artist page, and the about section of your albums.

The Future Sound of Latin America  

ZZK Records foundersGuillermo Canale, Diego Bulacio, Grant C. Dull

“The most important lesson we’ve learnt is that there is no formula, you’ll never know when something is going to hit. Passion and perseverance are everything.”

ZZK Records was seeded in the sweaty confines of a Buenos Aires weekly underground party. American expat Grant C. Dull and two Argentine friends, Guillermo Canale and Diego Bulacio, hosted the Zizek Club. “ZZK was born out of three nut-job, music-loving romantics who thought they were onto something,” explains Dull (aka El G). After two years of mashing “ideas, beats and rhythms,” the trio wanted to expand beyond their local base to show the world how Argentina gets down. “It was born out of a passion to take things bigger and enjoy life to the fullest, through music, friendship and good times,” Dull says.

The sound of ZZK is centered on digital cumbia, a hyper-modern take on the popular Latin American genre. Cumbia has been re-interpreted locally across the continent for over a century, but was arguably popularized for younger and foreign audiences by the likes of Mexico’s Toy Selectah and Diplo’s Mad Decent label. Digital cumbia has increased in popularity, and the sound and styles have expanded concurrently with wider access to music production technologies. Today, ZZK is one of the leading exponents of the genre, thanks to a roster that has included artists like Frikstailers, El Remolon and La Yegros, dubbed the “first lady of digital cumbia.” Beyond cumbia, the label provides a creative ground for artists to experiment with and reimagine other traditional Latin American genres and sounds.

In just five years, the trio behind ZZK have succeeded in extending the reach of their club night, benefiting from coverage on CNN and NPR, and editorial in The New York Times. They have also received invitations to SXSW and Coachella, and a distribution deal for the US and Japan. “Five years is a lifetime to think about, in this business and this country,” Dull remarks. “To make it another five years would be epic.” With growth come lessons, and Dull is certainly not looking back on ZZK’s achievements without a degree of realism. “The most important lesson we’ve learnt is that there is no formula, you’ll never know when something is going to hit. Passion and perseverance are everything. There is no finish line, just illusions and dreams,” he says.

While music remains the focus for ZZK, they’re also experimenting with other mediums. ZZK Film will be the home for visual projects, starting with The Nu LatAm Sound, a documentary exploring the roots of the digital music revolution that’s swooped across Latin America.

 

El Remolon

El Remolon

Pibe Cosmo, by El Remolon, was the third full-length release on ZZK, back in October 2008. Earlier this year he dropped the Selva album, his fourth release for the label. “Independent artists would still be poor if they didn’t keep day jobs. Electronic music came to Argentina in the last 10, 15 years, but with the rise of EDM there isn’t a lot of space for the kind of music we do at the moment. ZZK have a very strong international component, which gives releases more visibility. There aren’t many labels with this level of professionalism who are passionate about releasing digital cumbia.”

 

Frikstailers

Frikstailers

Frikstailers are the duo Rafa Caivano and Lisandro Sona, two Argentine artists now relocated to Mexico City. They first encountered ZZK after an invitation to play the Zizek Club during a Buenos Aires installment of the Mutek festival.

“We’ve really grown together. From the start, we added our own individual experiences and turned them into collective learning. That’s where our strength comes from and also how we spread around the globe.”

 

King Coya

King Coya

King Coya, legally known as Gaby Kerpel, hails from the northern Argentine Andes. He is one of ZZK’s most experimental artists, drawing from not only cumbia, but also Argentine folklore and electronic music. “It’s difficult to get younger people to see folklore as cool and use it in the electronic world as an alternative to mainstream music. But that’s also the best thing: it’s a very attractive challenge.”

 

Animal Chuki

Animal Chuki

Animal Chuki, the duo of Andrea Campos and Daniel Valle-Riestra, is from Lima, Peru. They were attracted to ZZK after hearing music from the likes of King Coya and Fauna, and now they’re bringing a renewed youthful energy to the roster.

“It’s really special to be a part of a label with so many great artists we love. We also share a vision of building a much larger and beautiful music community inside and outside of Latin America. In Lima, people are more receptive to new sounds, so the scene is evolving and positive. The best thing for us is the feeling of brotherhood between the artists and the unity that keeps us growing.”

A Match Made in Heaven

Brazil 2014, best new music

The lead-up to World Cup 2014 has been clouded by allegations of financial corruption, and news of mass eviction and clearing of favelas. While sports fans and protestors debate the morality of the impending tournament, there remain a couple of facts that are untouchable: Brazil has always been home to amazing music, and has also produced some of the most exciting football ever (that’s “soccer” to our American readers!). Whether you’re considering watching the World Cup, or possibly raising your voice in concern, Lewis Robinson has compiled a soundtrack to get you in the mood. Robinson runs the ever-dependable Mais Um Discos label, and has just released the extensive Role: New Sounds of Brazil compilation. Here he picks a track from an artist in each of the cities playing host to the Cup.

 

Rio de Janeiro

Mahmundi

Mahmundi

Rio de Janeiro is the home of bossa nova, and the acoustic guitar is central to the city’s musical identity. Mahmundi, a new artist from Rio, uses the instrument as a percussive tool, over which she stretches forlorn vocals to create a gorgeous slice of tropical-chillwave.

 

Brasilia

Silvia Tape

Silvia Tape

Silvia Tape makes androgynous-punk-funk that reflects her upbringing amidst the brutalist concrete buildings located in the blazing centre of Brazil.

 

Porto Alegre

Apanhador So

Apanhador So

Anti-World Cup demonstrators have tuned in to, and adopted, the glitchy and confrontational vibe of “Mordido” by Brazilian alt-rock band Apanhador So.

 

São Paulo

Barbara Eugenia

Barbara Eugenia

Barbara Eugenia is a respected singer-songwriter from São Paulo responsible for two solo albums, and was a collaborator on the Aurora album released in early 2014. This quirky little number, from her É o Que Temos album, shows why she is a cut above the rest.

 

Salvador de Bahia

Lucas Santtana

Lucas Santtana

In contrast to the raucous carnival that his hometown of Salvador de Bahia is known for, Santtana drops a lilting, beautifully underplayed bossa nova track with a subtle electronic edge.

 

Recife

Alessandra Leao

Alessandra Leao

Alessandra Leao, with her grounded, rootsy voice, and partner Cacapa, armed with jangly uplifting guitar, team up as one of the best combinations in Brazilian contemporary folk music.

 

Curitiba

Karol Conka

Karol Conka

The first lady of Brazilian hip hop lets rip over a frenetic double-time percussive beat from hyped Brazilian producer Nave.

 

Fortaleza

Paula Tesser

Paula Tesser

Paula Tesser left Fortaleza to hone her songwriting skills in France. She is now back in her hometown and recently delivered a timeless album of classic Brazilian MPB with a French twist – bien sûr! Photo by Nicolas Gondim

 

Belo Horizonte

Dead Lover’s Twisted Heart

Dead Lover's Twisted Heart

Belo Horizonte is currently a hub for one of Brazil’s most exciting music scenes. “Apocalipse do Amor” is an unashamedly feel-good-brega-funk track, and a certified home-town anthem.

 

Cuiabá

Fuzzly

Fuzzly

Cuiabá is located in the exact center of South America, and is the home base for Fuzzly. The trio have been making heavyweight stoner rock since 2001.

 

Natal

Igapó de Almas

Igapo de Almas

Psychedelic Balearic-folk with a distinctly shamanistic twist, by a mysterious quartet who are at the cutting edge of Natal’s burgeoning music scene.

 

Manaus

Os Tucumanus

Os Tucumanus

The streets of Os Tucmanus’s home city of Manaus are lined with vendors peddling all kinds of delicacies. On “Churrasco de gato” these tropical rock n’ rollers go in search of the rarest of treats: cat barbecue.

Small Town Secrets

Welcome to Night Vale

“We certainly see real life in Night Vale. Night Vale is scary and weird, just like real life.”
A menacing, glowing cloud drops dead animals from the sky. Then it becomes president of the school board. A five-headed dragon—primarily alternating between a Southern gentleman and a human-hating egomaniac, though there are three other heads to contend with—is running for mayor. His opponent? A faceless specter that lives in your house.

Welcome to Night Vale.

Night Vale is an imaginary city that feels palpably real, created in the minds of writers Jeffrey Cranor and Joseph Fink and released to the world in a weekly podcast that loosely resembles a community radio show. Since 2012, it has joined the pantheon of richly-sketched fictional towns, from Superman’s Smallville and Batman’s Gotham, to the Amazons’ Themiscyra and King Arthur’s Camelot. But Night Vale is actually quite quaint. Supernatural occurrences are everyday matters, treated blithely by its citizens and the show’s announcer Cecil, voiced by actor Cecil Baldwin. It is a testament to the success of the show’s creators—and to the talents of Baldwin—that they have cast a city that feels at once utterly strange and utterly normal.

Night Vale
Joseph Fink, Cecil Baldwin, Jeffrey Cranor

“We certainly see real life in Night Vale,” Cranor wrote in a recent email interview. “Night Vale is scary and weird, just like real life. People die all the time in Night Vale sometimes to the shock of the town and sometimes to great indifference, just like real life. People love each other and have relationships that are lovely and complicated.”

The popularity of the show has led its creators to take it on the road, and this week they are recording their third live show—the previous two have been double-length episodes, packed with guest stars and a tight story arc. In “Condos,” released last September, mysterious new homes arrive in town, and Cecil struggles to articulate his feelings to his scientist boyfriend. In “The Debate,” that faceless old woman (voiced by Mara Wilson) and the five-headed Hiram McDaniels square off—with interjections from angels, as well as reports of growing concerns over time-traveling deer.

“We hope they get a good story, which is to say an entertaining story, which is also to say a challenging story,” Cranor said. “We craft stories that are interesting to us. The success of the show came from us writing things we personally found interesting or funny or moving or difficult, and that’s what we want to continue to do.”

Night Vale live
Jasika Nicole, Cecil Baldwin

The live shows feed off the energy of their fanbase—Cecil, normally a fairly reserved character, has a new swagger to his personality. Night Vale’s fans are attentive enough that they cheer a new voice in “The Debate” after it speaks only a single word, immediately recognizing an infamous character.

Those kinds of reactions are a result of the strong continuity that Fink and Cranor have crafted through the show’s two seasons—a brief mention of a character may re-emerge as a full-blown plotline several months later. Fink wrote to me that “From the start, we agreed that the show could do anything we wanted, could go to as many weird and poetic places as we liked, as long as it had strict continuity. So anything that happened or became true in an episode, even little jokes, had to become part of the truth of the show.”

There is the mayoral election as well as the omnipresent, omniscient town council. But there’s also a strangely compelling distrust of local librarians, and the recurring House That Doesn’t Exist (which kind of explains itself). Most intriguing is Night Vale’s relationship with its terrifyingly happy sister city of Desert Hills, and StrexCorp, that city’s reigning corporate overlords. Night Vale’s canon resembles Adult Swim’s The Venture Bros.—which began as a Jonny Quest spoof and gradually transformed into an opulent fictional universe. In fact, Jackson Publick, a Venture Bros. co-creator, voices Hiram McDaniels.

The atmosphere of Night Vale is shaped by more than just Fink and Cranor’s words and Cecil’s voice. Music plays a prominent role, with distinctively moody accompaniment in the podcasts provided by Disparition, the solo project of composer Jon Bernstein.

Each episode also features the “weather”—a song handpicked by Fink and inserted into the broadcast towards the end of the show. “Music is an important part of the show because it’s something that’s important to me and that I really love. So anything I was going to be spending a great deal of time on was going to have to include music somehow,” Fink wrote. The weather has included the creators’ longtime favorite artists, fan submissions, and the results of happenstance—Fink had a chance encounter on the street with Chilean songwriter Nelson Poblete and ended up playing him on the show.

The Night Vale tours have brought in weather from local guests, too—The Mountain Goats, a fan of the podcast, played at a North Carolina show. To date, the live releases have featured Gabriel Royal and Jason Webley.

Between the music and the writing, it’s easy to become deeply obsessed with the goings-on of Night Vale. I keep vacillating between wanting to vote for Hiram McDaniels and feeling like the faceless old woman is a better candidate (not that it matters: voting is superseded by the counting of loud pulses emanating from a nearby gorge, which decides the winner). I’m genuinely concerned with the growing role of StrexCorp and the incorporation of the local government, which threatens Cecil’s broadcast freedom. It’s the best of local politics, with a very heavy dose of the uncanny.

But the prosaic format of the show is what truly creates the stable sense of a town. Radio conventions—the announcements of a community calendar, the reading of sponsored commercials—acquire their weird power from the daily strangeness of Night Vale itself.

Night Vale feels real to its listeners, and it feels real to Cranor, too:

“Given that this is an ongoing show with no end date and no TV-style season structure, and given that it is fully independent and free (no chance of getting cancelled by a dispassionate network), we have the freedom to keep exploring these characters and this universe. It’s a community radio show and there will never be a shortage of news events (just like in real life), and characters are always evolving and changing for better and worse (just like in real life).”

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