The Already Dead Family Reunion is only one week away! For me, this is by far the most magical music experience of the year and I’m incredibly excited to share it with all of you! In the next few days, you’ll be seeing posts from several DIT writers about the Family Reunion, what it means to them and what they’re looking forward to this year. Seeing as how I am the one booking the festival, I’m gonna start by sharing my perspective and hopefully encouraging you to join us on September 24th – 28th!

Over the past couple years of booking this annual event, I’ve had a number of people tell me it is best festival they’ve ever been to. I’ve also heard folks say that they’ve never seen this big a lineup without any filler acts or that they’ve never been so consistently blown away by this many new bands. Very high praise and I do not take it lightly!

The Family Reunion is a deeply important experience for me and I take great pains to ensure it is the best event I can possibly put together. I carefully pick bands that are creative, challenging, passionate and inspiring. I’m not concerned with booking artists that have been hyped on Pitchfork or can draw a big crowd. Instead, I want this to be a special experience for all playing and attending. You may not know all the performers ahead of time, but I guarantee that if you have an open mind, you will enjoy every minute of it!

For those not familiar, here is a quick bio on what the ADFR is and what you need to know about this year:

The Already Dead Family Reunion is an annual music festival based around the label Already Dead Tapes & Records which was founded by Josh Tabbia and myself (Sean Hartman) in late 2009. The first Reunion was a one day event in the Fall of 2011. We wanted to put together an event that allowed label bands from across the country to meet and collaborate. We wanted to inspire local creativity by bringing in fresh and forward thinking artists. Most of all, we wanted to build a festival where people attend because of the event’s reputation, not just because their favorite band is playing. Every year it has grown both in scope and attendance. This year includes 36 bands from all over the country playing at 4 different venues over the course of 5 days!

A lot of amazing acts have played the Reunion over the past three years and I wholly believe this year is the best lineup yet!

We’ve got some heavy hitters from previous Reunions -
(About A Million, Grow Fangs, Problems That Fix Themselves, The New Diet, Spelling Bee, U.S. Tribes, Morseville Bridge, AM Stations)

Newer label bands making their Kalamazoo debut -
(Shitstorm, Ant’lrd, Silence Dogood, Yeesh, Miami Dolphins, Watermelon, Kyle Kaos)

Locals bands -
(The Reptilian, Forget The Times, Boring People, Vermillion Father, Boron Nuzzle, Guppy, Anybody But The Cops, Axel Quinlan, Dumbelievers, ARGERN, M. Sord)

Plus fan favorites, label associates and friends in the making – (Child Bite, Cheer-Accident, Cellular Choas, Chris Brokaw, Spanyurd, Regular Fucked Up People, Victoria Blade, Comfort Food, Law$suits)

We’ve even got a special event at the Alamo Drafthouse where a few hand picked musicians will be improvising a live soundtrack to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari!

For more info on what these bands sound like, when and where they’re playing and how you can get tickets, go to
You can also find a Facebook event here:

I’ll leave you now with a few videos of the bands playing. Thanks for reading and I hope to see you next week!

- Sean Hartman


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9/18 – King Median, #timdoesnotexist, Shark Attacks Baby @ Satellite Records


Satellite Records has only been open for about three months, but in that short amount of time, the neighborhood record store has hosted an already countless number of shows.  This Thursday, King Median and #timdoesnotexist make their respective second visits to Satellite Records joined by a new Kalamazoo project entitled Shark Attacks Baby.

King Median is a psychedelic pop/rock outfit comprised of Kalamazoo College students who just finished recording an album with Kalamazoo-based recording studio / music collective Double Phelix.  King Median was very likely the last artist to record at the now deserted Double Phelix recording facility on Kalamazoo Ave.  The band takes influence from classic and modern psychedelic music, citing such influences as Animal Collective and The Beach Boys.

#timdoesnotexist is the singer-songwriter project of a Kalamazoo musician named Tim Tapper.  Tim has been known as a songwriter in Kalamazoo since moving to the area in 2007, playing songs under varying monikers (The Number Eight, Tim Tapper & the Terribles) over the years.  Distinctions from the projects previous are few and far between, but with #timdoesnotexist, elements of comedy and conceptual songwriting that were not previously present are revealed.

Shark Attacks Baby is a new Kalamazoo band.  The world wide web offers no information on this band, but with a name like that, one can only assume they’ll bring an interesting time.

Satellite Records is an all ages, substance-free venue located at 808 S Westnedge Ave.  The show will kick off around 8:30, and there is no cover charge.

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Satellite Records has got an evening astounding entertainment lined up! Ava Luna dropped one of the best records of 2014 and we’re super excited to see them right here in Kalamazoo!

Ava Luna is a band that defies normal genre constraints. The instrumentation is often based in Punk, No Wave and Experimental roots but the vocals are straight Soul Music. They craft their songs so beautifully that any listener can enjoy them for the Pop masterpieces they really are. This is adventurous, passionate music that absolutely must be heard!

Check out these videos and you’ll see exactly what we mean:

Satellite Records is located at 808 S Westnedge Ave
Show starts at 9pm
$5 suggested minimum donation with all money going to the touring bands
All Ages
No alcohol / drugs / jerks
Opening bands include: Celestial Shore, Saxsquatch & Bridge Band 


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The KCAC (Kalamazoo Collective Arts Center) has announced an afternoon event to explain what the hopes and goals of the organization are! More importantly, this meeting KCACtshirt3hopes to collect information from the community about just what exactly you would like out of the arts center itself.

Since acquiring a space and keeping afloat is a big endeavor, the KCAC board is being cautious and thoughtful when it comes to the creation of this endeavor. That’s why it’s vital to get community input, so that the efforts will go to what people really hope to get out of a local art/community center.

If you have absolutely any thoughts on the matter, come to 511 w Vine (the Vine Neighborhood Association) between 2-4 to ask any questions and to verbalize/write down your perspective. The KCAC hopes to have more open to the public meetings such as this, so help start this off on a good note!

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The Making of Maraj’s Voyager, By Andy Catlin

When we set out to make our first full-length album as Maraj, we had one simple goal: start and don’t stop until it’s done.  We are a new band with a lot of internal momentum, and a strong, but loose process: I write the music, Ben makes it better, Kam and Darius rap, and Sam sings the hooks. From the onset, we’ve had a natural sense of unity and liberty; a feeling that arose out of our diversity, drive to create, and primary focus on the groove. The following three months turned into the most prolific, focused, and fun period I’ve ever had as a producer and collaborator.

On our first EP, I wrote all of the music as I had in the past for other projects; I sat at the guitar or piano, wrote chords and melodies, then started arranging and overdubbing until it was time to write hooks and lyrics. I am devoted to creating a mix of organic and electronic instrumentation, respecting the feel and necessity of human time and error, but not denying the power of drum machines and precise “in the box” synthesizers. While I’m proud of the funk and hooks on the EP and the opportunity it gave us to become a unit, it lacked the multi-dimensional aesthetic that is a hallmark of my favorite producers from Madlib to Van Dyke Parks.

As I was working at Hillside Middle School this past spring, teaching kids about vinyl for the Gift of Music program, it became clear that the root of our next album would be my collection of world and novelty records I’ve collected over the years. When I compose on an instrument, as opposed to staff paper, midi, or a DAW, I often find my compositional choices are based on my physical habits as a player rather than exploration of and reflection upon the infinite possibilities of any musical moment. I made it a goal to make the melodic and chord structures based on samples, and to use performance to sweeten and enhance the framework created by the vinyl samples. I would take the role of translator as opposed to author. As weeks and months went by, I came to find that I was freer than ever to shape my musical aesthetic, and began to access grooves and sounds that I long attempted, but fell short of due to my limitations as an instrumentalist.

Those of you who sample know that the more you look, the more the connections start to reveal themselves, no matter how disparate the source material may be. The first beat I created for the album, “Two Trips”, features samples from Faust, Scott Joplin, Sons of Pioneers, and a Martin Denny exotica record. I can barely remember how it all came to be, but through intense focus and the action/reaction process of composing in the studio, everything fell into place. I took the half finished record to the Double Phelix and added pianos, guitars, Hammond organ, percussion, and Ben sweetened the vinyl drum breaks with a Roland 707. Often times, this process includes our incredible bass player, Joel Pixley-Fink, cutting funky live bass. Between April and July 2014, we went on to create about 15 more tracks along the same lines, ten of which have made it onto the final release.

All the while, as the beats became more complete, I was passing demos to Kam, Darius, and Sam to write hooks and lyrics. While I am a vocalist and contribute to most tracks, I amazed by the power of great vocalists and MCs to turn sound into concept and concept into content. When I hear a track, I hear microphones, instruments, chords, and grooves, while Kam and Darius are able to fluidly translate sounds into visions; a multi-tracked add 6 chord of Sam’s voice may be the rainforest, while a roomy piano trill may be the disillusion of a lover. From there we take an image, and we grow a concept; a rainforest feels free, freedom takes liberation, and we’re off. However broad a concept like ‘freedom’ or ‘time’ may be, the details and meaning of a Maraj song become clearer and more concrete as the voices enumerate.

Just as the disparate samples come together through an unspoken action/reaction, each vocalist found their place in the music, and helped form the concept by adding their unique perspective. The more we searched, the more options were revealed. Within in this framework, we were not only able to push our collaboration conceptually, but also play with our given roles as musicians and people. Our live vocalist turned full time member, Toro, started to spit verses, while Darius and Kam wrote more hooks.

This is not to say we got it all figured out or that we don’t have room to grow; the voyage of a musician is never ending. We certainly aren’t the first or the last to create in this style; we’re always connected to those who came before. While we’d like to sell some CDs and have people come to our shows, for us the inspiration and the payoff is in the process itself. Maraj wasn’t planned, it just happened. As we say on the title track, “Who do you trust, when the road just rolls out behind us?”

In a world that continuously grows more fragmented and polarized through absurdist media, technological dependency, institutionalized racism, and apathetic cool, music offers us a breeding ground for self-definition and universal understanding. Music is the language of the soul. We are overjoyed to have found each other at such a ripe time and hope our music can help spark new avenues of exploration and connection for others to build off of. Our ears are tired from months of post-production, but our minds are our racing, and this album leaves us with so much room to grow and discover as long as we continue to be ourselves, together, in the studio, having fun.

Maraj is: Andy Catlin, Ben Lau, Kameron Potts, Sam Cooper, Darius Greer, Julia Toro, and Joel Pixley-Fink.

VOYAGER is out today on CD and digital download through


Maraj plays for free tonight, Sept. 12, at Louie’s Trophy House in Kalamazoo, MI. The show is free, 18+, and begins at 930pm. Fellow Michigan voyagers Ty Beat and MC Friendly support, with DJ Surge spinning throughout the night.


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Satellite Records may be new, but they’ve already well established themselves as one of the most active DIT friendly venues in the city. Since opening on July 1st, they’ve hosted at least two shows a week. Some pretty incredible bands have come through and it’s only getting better!

They’re next event is gonna be HEAVY. Pro level Experimental Jazz from NYC. Battle Trance is a group led by Tenor Sax master Travis Laplante. He’s played in town three times before. Once with his No Wave quartet Little Women and twice solo. Ask anyone that saw one of those shows and they will unanimously tell you it was one of the best performances they’ve ever seen. Do not make the mistake of missing this next gig!

Battle Trance have a brand new LP out on NNA Tapes. Their description of the record is one of the most engaging press releases we’ve seen. So, we’re gonna cheat a little and just post it here:

“Palace of Wind is a piece that not only transcends genres, but also transcends time and space. Existing in the cracks between contemporary classical music, avant-garde jazz, black metal, ambient, and world music, Palace of Wind is an album-length composition that pushes the four saxophonists to the limit, shedding new light on the saxophone as an ensemble instrument. The players use circular breathing to build continuous, hypnotic waves of sound; multiphonics layer to create intricate textures that seem to come from an ancient time; and blisteringly fast lines seem to liquefy into each other. Unorthodox articulations and unusual fingerings are also part of the vast sonic vocabulary that the members of Battle Trance have painstakingly mastered. However, Palace of Wind isn’t merely concerned with demonstrating the virtuosity of the ensemble, nor with impressing or entertaining the listener. Instead, it is meant to be a portal of resonance where there is no separation between the listener and the sound.

Battle Trance had an auspicious inception. One morning, Travis Laplante (Little Women and a trio with bassist Trevor Dunn and drummer Ches Smith) literally awoke with the crystal clear vision that he needed to start an ensemble with three specific individuals: Matthew Nelson, Jeremy Viner, and Patrick Breiner. Laplante was actually unfamiliar with their work as musicians and had only a minimal relationship with them as individuals. He was also aware that a band of four tenor saxophones could be the worst idea ever. In spite of this, Laplante followed through and contacted Nelson, Viner, and Breiner. He gave them very little information beyond his morning experience But no one hesitated – the ensemble formed that evening.

Since many of the techniques used in the piece are nearly impossible to notate in traditional form, Palace of Wind was transmitted via the oral tradition. The rehearsals were much like martial arts training: intricate sounds were rigorously copied and repeated by the ensemble members until they perfected the techniques. Many hours were spent building the sheer strength required to sustain continuous circular breathing for extended periods. Likewise, a steady focus on physicality was required to repeat rapid note patterns for long periods without sacrificing speed. Palace of Wind is such a demanding composition that there is a high risk of physically burning out before the piece concludes, as once it begins there is no opportunity for rest or even a quick drink of water. There was also extensive training in dissolving the distinct individual identities of the players into the greater collective sound: The band did various long-tone exercises, similar to group meditation, the purpose being to blend together into one sound, so that the origin of the collective sound’s components is completely impossible to discern – even by the members of the ensemble.

Palace of Wind does embrace both the cerebral nature of composition and the visceral act of performance, but immediately locates itself, the musicians and the audience in a purely spiritual space. It is a new kind of music and therefore modern, and yet it’s absolutely primordial, the transformative act of human beings blowing air through tubes and producing something timeless.”



Satellite Records is located at 808 S Westnedge (next to Bagel Beanery and 4th Coast)

First band kicks off at 9pm. Local support provided by Experimental Doom Metal heavyweights Shoto & Space Rock explorers Surprise Attack!

We’re asking a suggested donation of $5 or more
If you’re truly broke, please come to the show anyways! We won’t turn you away or look down on you. We just want to make sure these fine touring musicians are properly taken care of.

As always, shows at Satellite are ALL AGES! Register will be open too if you wanna buy some records

Join the facebook event and be sure to tell all yr friends. Let’s pack the place!



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Something a Little Different on the DIY Touring Circuit – THE GADABOUT FILM FEST 12th year + Eric Ayotte @ THE VNA 9.8

With the mass of DIY touring bands that come through Kalamazoo, it’s easy to get a sense of jaded on the “same old same old.” While I would personally boast that the musical Gadabout 2014 posterMODIFIEDexperiences available in Kalamazoo from week to week are highly varied and innumerable, it’s not hard to find yourself wondering, from time to time, if you’re actually up for another show.

If you’re looking to break up the monotony, but still enjoy DIY art, look no further! Eric Ayotte (of Plan-It-X Records association, and long time pal of our little city) is stopping in with his traveling film fest, The Gadabout Film Fest.

The Gadabout is a collection of short films from all over the world, ranging in style, and submitted by anyone willing to throw themselves into the mix. Every year a theme for the fest is picked, and a line up fitting that theme goes on tour, just as a DIY touring band would. So we’ve got amateur artists, showcasing their art for cheap all over!

As an example of what has previously been featured (but wont be this time around, so I’m not ruining any of it for you) is this sort documentary about an avid pinball fanatic

This year’s program is SPEECHLESS, showcasing several short films featuring zero dialog.

Opening the night at 8:00 will be Eric Ayotte himself, who is a seasoned folk musician, and one of my absolute personal favorites.

We’re kicking off this thing at 8:00 at the Vine Neighborhood Association. Please bring donation just like any other show or what have you (5 encouraged but not required). Respect the venue, the folks who traveled here and set it up, and your fellow film viewers. Be kind, rewind.

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