Today, the Los Angeles-based grunge ensemble Ramonda Hammer share “All For What,” their first track of 2021 alongside a video directed by Kelly Reed. “All For What” was produced by Sarah Tudzin (aka illuminati hotties), who has an incredibly innovative and quirky sensibility for songwriting and production. “Working with Ramonda Hammer is non-stop fun!” Says Tudzin. “They always roll up to the studio with energy, a powerful song, and lots of snacks 🙂 In the case of ‘All For What,’ Andy & Devin had a killer riff based around big major7 chords that made this song particularly unique, it lives in the liminal space in which we all get stuck when we’re too deep in the phone zone.”
“All For What” takes Ramonda Hammer’s signature sassy/sad style of guitar-heavy, 90’s style alt-rock to new heights with the inclusion of additional electronic elements floating against the moody soundscapes shaped by Davis, guitarist Justin Geter, bassist Andy Hengl, and drummer Mark Edwards.
“‘All For What’ is a reflection on social media and the frustrations, mental health struggles, and sometimes sheer confusion that come along with it,” says Davis. “It’s not meant to be a critique on others and their use of it, it’s simply my sigh of acceptance and surrender as I think to myself ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.’” @ramondahammer
Anyone paying attention to illuminati hotties over the past few years will know it’s been a rollercoaster to say the least. Through it all, the band’s fearless leader Sarah Tudzin has risen from the ashes and is about to deliver the band’s most exciting record yet.
Today she is announcing her own brand new label Snack Shack Tracks, in partnership with the Los Angeles-based independent label, Hopeless Records. Releasing her new album on her own label felt like a natural next step after what she had been through previously.
“I’m incredibly stoked to be partnering with Hopeless Records on my own imprint, Snack Shack Tracks!.” Notes Tudzin “With everything that has brought me to where I am, I knew that the next time around I needed to seek support from folks who trusted me – who believed not only in illuminati hotties, but also in myself, and my curative vision as a creator at large. Hopeless is the perfect collaborator for IH and beyond. I am thrilled, grateful, and looking forward to an expansive future for the music that we’re all total nerds about!”
After the success of her debut album, Kiss Yr Frenemies, and coining the term “tenderpunk,” illuminati hotties were on their way to recording and releasing a highly-anticipated sophomore album. However, things with their previous label started to fall apart, and illuminati hotties found themselves stuck in a contract with a label who didn’t have the infrastructure to put out the album the band had been crafting for months. “It felt like any momentum came to a screeching halt. It felt painful to pick up a guitar, to write, to record any loose ends that needed to happen to wrap up the album,” Sarah recalls.
With the emotional turmoil and uncertainty building over the label situation, Sarah turned her focus to a new batch of songs that would become FREE I.H. Funneling all the raw feelings and letting go of any inhibitions, illuminati hotties released the collection of songs, carefully not defined as the “new album.” The critically-acclaimed, fan favorite, release closed the chapter on the label drama, and opened up the band musically to a whole world of possibilities.
Alongside the new label announcement illuminati hotties are also giving fans a sneak peak sharing new music in the form of “MMMOOOAAAAAYAYA” (pronounced MOO!), solidifying the ushering in of a new era for the band.
“The springboard for the ‘MMMOOOAAAAAYAYA’ video pays tribute to the iconic music video for D’angelo’s ‘Untitled (How Does It Feel)’ while demanding space for the subversion of male sexuality and flipping the dynamic of power throughout its three slimey minutes.” Tudzin adds. Though similar at first, illuminati hotties’ version offers a very viscous twist. Halfway through the track, as the angular guitars and driving drum groove dismantle in discord away from the catchy chorus of “mmms,” “ooos, “aaas” and “ya yas” and into the track’s second act, rivulets of goop begin to rain down on Tudzin. The mucous oozes from an unknown source above Tudzin as she croons along casually, unphased and at times, even laughing at the source of it. The video serves as a cautionary reminder to all of those who would like to even think about projecting their bullshit onto her – don’t.
Sadie Dupuis is a magician of creativity. She fronts two bands, runs her own record label, released a book of poetry, and has established a poetry journal. She is known as much for her poetry and her music. On Friday September 25 she is releasing Sad13’s sophomore album Haunted Painting. The album includes guests Roberto Lange, Satomi Matsuzaki, Merrill Garbus and Rick Maguire. It was recorded and mixed in 6 studios with a host of women engineers. You’ve already seen the singles including “Hysterical”, “Oops…!”, “Ruby Wand” and “Ghost (of a Good Time)”,
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Haunted Painting?
SD: Not getting to play it live for the indefinite future, probably. A lot of pent up energy in making these complicated arrangements and not getting to show them off IRL!
FEMMUSIC: Haunted Painting is your first record with Wax Nine. What made you decide to work with them? How was the experience?
SD: Wax Nine is my own record label, an imprint with Carpark. I’ve been lucky to release albums by two of my favorites artists–Johanna Warren and Melkbelly–on the label, as well as co-release a compilation tribute to Adam Schlesinger with Father/Daughter Records earlier this year. We also launched a literary journal earlier this year which runs bi-weekly and features new poems and illustrations every issue.
FEMMUSIC: I was intrigued your choice to use women engineers on the album. Can you tell me what you were looking for in engineers? What made these 6 (Sarah Tudzin, Erin Tonkon, Maryam Qudus, Lily Wen, Anne Gauthier & Emily Lazar) stand out?
SD: Emily Lazar is a long-term collaborator for me; she’s mastered most of my records as well as some of my favorite artists, everyone from Beck to Dolly Parton. I hosted a panel for Sonos and She Shreds in 2018 on audio engineering, featuring Emily and three other amazing women in different corners of production. We are drastically underrepresented in music technology, comprising about 2% of engineers, and as a producer myself, it felt strange and hypocritical that I’d only hired men as tracking and mix engineers in the past.
Most of the engineers I hired on this record were friends, or friends of friends–I was a big admirer of Illuminati Hotties, Sarah Tudzin’s band, and Lily Wen I have known for 15 years. Erin Tonkon has produced heavy hitters like David Bowie, but also more contemporary bands I love, like Pixx and Lady Lamb. Maryam Qudus worked with several friends–Allison Crutchfield, Madeleine Kenney–and also fronts her own amazing project called Spacemoth. And I met Anne Gauthier on tour in Louisville, when Speedy got to check out her amazing studio La La Land. All are brilliant producers and people who I’d recommend to anyone and hope I’ll work with again once it’s safe.
FEMMUSIC: You recorded the album in-between touring with Speedy Ortiz and the Mouthguard book tour. After that constant frenzy how has not touring during COVID affected you? What do you miss? What has changed for you during it, both positive and negative?
SD: It’s strange adjusting to so many nights in a row at home! One of the best parts of tour is having a chance to see or play with faraway friends a couple times a year, and I really miss that. But one positive is that I have a lot more time to dedicate to projects that aren’t strictly my own, like the Adam Schlesinger compilation, the poetry journal, recording on some friends’ projects, as well as the Union of Musicians and Allied Workers, which began work a few months ago.
FEMMUSIC: What was your vision with Haunted Painting? What was your favorite part of the arrangements?
SD: Since I recorded in five different studios and mixed in a sixth, I wanted to make good use of each place’s unique gear lists. Each song was arranged to include all the most interesting equipment at each studio. Trying to write specifically to a location (and to instruments I’m less familiar with writing for, like strings, woodwinds, lap steel, theremin) was a fun challenge.
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique? Is it different from your poetry writing technique? Where do the 2 merge or separate?
SD: In composing music, I usually have a chord progression in mind. I demo drums and bass before anything else, then add synth parts, finally guitars, vocals last. So I’m trying to write the lyrics to fit on top of a mostly arranged song. Poetry I’m generally starting from scratch without any guidelines, especially not the built in constraints of trying to fit syllables to music.
FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?
SD: I have thought about ‘The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh’ theme song almost every morning upon waking for like a decade, so unfortunately, I have to answer with that. I can’t wake up and not think of it. I hope to be free some day.
FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?
SD: I don’t think misogyny is a challenge for any one person to “overcome” individually, especially if you are on the receiving end of it, but making sure to use whatever hiring power I have–crew on tour, opening bands–to make my corner of the industry more inclusive and representative of diverse music workers has been a priority for me, and makes touring a lot easier and happier.
FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?
SD: There are a couple 2020 records I’m obsessed with – Ganser, Kitty, Yaeji, Backxwash, Yves Tumor, No Joy, Katie Dey, Allie X, Caroline Rose. I’d be over the moon to play or tour with any of those projects.
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?
SD: Be cool for artists to actually make money off the streaming services that earn billions thanks to our work!