NewVillager are multi-media artists from San Francisco and New York. The two founding members, Ben Bromley and Ross Simonini make new pop music as a means of illustrating the NewVillager mythology, a system of thinking, which is partially “found” and partially created by the group and their collaborators. In an interview with the band, they describe their mythos as, “not a story, but a lens to look at the world. It’s a ten-part framework of understanding the process of change. How does an object or a person or an idea go from one state to another state? It’s a question everybody asks any time anyone tries to create anything and the mythology is just our attempt at answering it.” NewVillager represents the mythology through symbols, drawings, photographs, film, and installations, all of which are documented on their website (www.newvillager.org).
The band’s first single, Rich Doors/Genghis On was released by Two-Syllable records and Moodgadget in 2009, and was acclaimed by Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, the Irish Times, Stereogum, TimeOut New York, RCRDLBL and the NME, who described the band as “pop shamans taking meticulous steps towards a mysterious, musical nirvana.”
Ben and Ross met from opposite coasts in 2006 to begin a 4-year process of creating their debut self-titled album. The first portion of the album (Cocoon) was created in Hayward, California, inside an empty, skeleton of house in which the band squatted. The second portion (Forest) was created in Forestville, CA, in a cabin by the Russian river, beside a “meth house.” The final portion of the album (LightHouse) was recorded in Port Townsend, Washington, in a small house near the ocean, adjacent to a haunted castle. The album was finished in several studios throughout New York, NY, where the band currently resides.
The band’s working methodology combines writing, producing and mixing into a unified process. For this album, they recorded 10 versions of every song, each with different melodies, chords, rhythms, production, and lyrics, in an attempt to find the best overall representation of the NewVillager mythology.
Over the course of the recording process, the band took 3 breaks to tour, including trips to SXSW, CMJ, a full-scale installation in an art gallery, and openings spots for High Places and Sunset Rubdown. At every show, the band performed the ThreeTimes, an on-stage game involving a 9-foot, form-shifting sculpture called “BlackCrowBoy.”
In January 2010, NewVillager co-curated Ecotones, an integrated event in an art gallery in San Francisco which explored the concept of an ecotone (the boundary between different ecosystems). For the exhibition, the band built a stage on which they performed for two consecutive nights and constructed a private “LightHouse” room in which the public could perform the Three Times game along with sound and light animations. Other contributors to the exhibit included the band, Lucky Dragons, editors at McSweeney’s literary journal, members of the OuLiPo literary group, noise artist Chen Santa Maria, along with several filmmakers, painters, and poets. SF Weekly described the experience as, “a thrilling new world of performance, art, and performance art.”
In March 2010, NewVillager organized the RichDoors game, a 27 person integrated event in the RedHouse, the band’s home and performance space. The event was filmed by director, Ben Dickinson and director of photography, Kevin Phillips. It was released as a music video in late 2010.
NewVillager maintains a blog at newvillagermusic.blogpspot.com, in which they describe their mythology through life experiences, photography and interviews. They have contributed drawings, music and writings to arts journals around the world, including Australia’s The Lifted Brow, HtmlGiant, and Hobart.
In 2011, NewVillager will release their debut with IAMSOUND records along with a video for their first single, “LightHouse,” and a narrative trailer for their album. In 2011, the band will build a interactive physical environment in New York City and publish a 1000 page book.