Truth in Words, in Rhymes, in Notes: An Interview with Nate Ruess of Fun.

Blake J. Graham had the opportunity to interview Nate Ruess of indie rock band Fun. The following article is a profile of Nate Ruess as constructed from his conversations with Blake J. Graham.

On an all but normal evening in 2011, Nate Ruess arrived early at the Bowery Hotel on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. He sat at the bar, downed a couple drinks, and waited nervously. Having spent ten years writing and performing music with various punk bands, a popular indie-rock group named The Format, and now as the front man of power-pop trio Fun., Ruess has encountered many people and products of the music industry. But on this night he’s getting silly drunk to calm his nerves and loosen up. For Fun.’s second album, Ruess devised an album seismically different from Fun.’s previous work. “I remember telling the guys in the band, the record label, and our manager ‘oh, it’s going to be like a Fun. album but it’s going to have breakbeats,’” Ruess told me. He intended to fuse his theatrical indie pop-rock sound with hip-hop aesthetic. To do it, he wanted the best producer in the business. He waited in the Bowery Hotel’s bar for producer Jeff Bhasker, the man behind the gilded stars Beyoncé, Kanye West, and Drake. Bhasker had already cancelled multiple meetings with Ruess, but serendipitous conditions aligned and he agreed to give Ruess 10 minutes of his time.

Aided by a slight sense of inebriation, Ruess talked freely with Bhasker about the concept of Fun.’s upcoming album, dropping huge hints abut the band’s desire to work with him. Bhasker took interest. He had been in the studio working on Beyoncé tracks that day and decided to invite Ruess to his room to show him the songs. With the power of drunk-logic behind him, Ruess decided it was only proper to show Bhasker what he had been working on. He sang the chorus of an unfinished song that he had written only days prior. Bhasker was impressed. That night they recorded the hook for what would become Fun.’s breakout single “We Are Young.”


Spotifriday VI: 13 All-Star Rap Jams

The past week has been all about Odd Future Wolf Gang’s song “Oldie,” the ten minute long jam featuring almost all of the Odd Future crew. And it got me thinking about how it fits in with some of the other great All-Star Rap Jams, the hip hop songs which combine and feature artists from the same crews or labels. Here is the criteria I used for such an arbitrary listing:

  1. Over 4 minutes (otherwise it’s not a jam).
  2. Over 3 rappers who are notable by their individual merits (otherwise it’s not an all-star showing).
  3. There must be some element of competition between the rappers in their verses (I expect some sort of awareness signaled by lyrics that this song is more than a song—that it is almost a rap battle), or a recognition of the songs all-star grouping (in lyrics or song construction). Therefore the constantly guesting “Nicki Minaj’s” of the rap world, who are often worked into a song seamlessly, do not always merit consideration.

That’s it. These are just the songs that you think about with your friends and argue who rapped better. I put these 13 together based on year released—it makes my contemporary bias all the more evident. If you have any more suggestions, leave them in the suggestions box. This is by no means comprehensive. The likely soon-to-be updated Spotify playlist can be found here.


Airspace Spotifriday V: The 90′s, Wouldn’t That Be Nice?

The 90s were pretty nice, right? I liked them. The economy was booming, the wars were few and far between, and the music was good—so good that rock music almost stopped evolving after this point.

This playlist aims to capture those pleasant vibes and pioneering spirit by incorporating some of the best of the alt-rock and indie sound. You can find the playlist here on Spotify, and you can expect a generally melodic mix of indie, folk, pop and psychedelia.


Spotifriday IV

Spotifriday’s aim to highlight what us editors are listening to in new music and share the albums that we love but don’t get around to reviewing in full length. This is the fourth in an ongoing series of playlist and album posts from The Airspace through Spotify every Friday.


He Who Never: The Passion Behind The Piano

Aaron Rosell, a college student who goes by the musical alias of He Who Never, sits confidently in front of a piano. His fingers run across the keys expertly, producing enchanting euphonic chords and whimsical, heartfelt melodies with practically a flick of the wrist. Through his captivating musical scores combined with his poetic lyrics, the independent singer and songwriter He Who Never’s songs can easily leave one mesmerized.

He Who Never’s completely original acoustic piano music encourages personal reflection. The drums in the background, whose beats and rhythms are also composed by Rosell himself, provide a ground line to reality as their solemn sounds induce contemplation. His lyrics are hauntingly beautiful, and his soft, rich baritone expresses the honest emotion behind each and every one of his songs.

I had the distinct privilege of having a conversation with Aaron Rosell, the musical mastermind behind He Who Never, about his music and his inspiration last week.


From the bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, bells

Sleigh Bells — The Airspace

Sitting on the stage is a rack of 12 Marshall amps—a literal wall of sound primed for the audience. In front of the multi-thousand watt array stands Sleigh Bells vixen diva, Alexis Krauss, and beside her the timid composer Derek Miller stands, almost hiding behind his Jackson USA Soloist guitar, wayfarers, and denim jacket. High above them, an oversized American flag floats. “New Orleans! What The Fuck’s Up?” yells Krauss like an arena-rock mating call. The amps explode with guitar-beat soup, the crowd roils with cosmic fury, and so starts Sleigh Bells sophomore album Reign of Terror.


Blissful Songs for Your Broken Heart

Blissful Break Up
Alas, the good tidings and romantic spirit of St. Valentine’s day are no longer succulent in the air. Love has grown and bloomed, then froze and died. “No!” cry the dreamers. “Say it isn’t so.” It’s so. We started the week with Indie Love Songs for Your Hipster Valentine, now it’s time for some songs to speed you through the Valentine’s fallout.


Indie Love Songs for Your Hipster Valentine

Love on Hipsterday

Contrary to popular belief, the best love songs aren’t limited to the croonings of Sinatra, Martin, or Adele. Houston, Dion, and T-Swift do not have a monopoly on the music of love. Many of the most emotional, heartfelt musicianship in indie music can be heard in their own attempts at the love song. They are all tender songs, and they can be found on this Spotify playlist.


January’s Best Albums

January's Best Albums

In an mp3 society, good music sometimes has a tough time making it above the fray. So every Friday, I and the other editors are going to engage in music curation, alongside our Airspace reviews and our twitter reviews.

Today we have The Airspaces top albums for January. Enjoy. And if you don’t enjoy, be sure to let us know what we missed in the comments below.

A majority of the albums can be found here on Spotify and here on Share My Playlists.


Hospitable She: Brooklyn Trio’s Soaring Debut


There’s common story that begins with a nerdy pop trio from Brooklyn tempting the scene with a new flavor of music and ends with dissapointment and a melange of same-same song. Hospitality, led by Amber Papini, manages to break that pattern with their self-titled debut album. The trio has bottled quirky effervesence and lets it trickle into the listener’s ears.

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