DID YOU READ

Exclusive Video Premiere: A Short Film About Frank Fairfield

Exclusive Video Premiere: A Short Film About Frank Fairfield (photo)

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The 25-year-old California musician Frank Fairfield has toured in support of Fleet Foxes and Cass McCombs, two bands at or near indie rock’s recent crossover metastasis. But Fairfield doesn’t approach the twisting folk-pop of Fleet Foxes or the elliptical escapades of Cass McCombs. Rather, Fairfield plays banjo, guitar, fiddle and, quite often, the floor with his feet as he stomps out the rhythm of American songs that sometimes date beyond the century mark. Fairfield is an old-time musician, a passionate and untiring searcher and syndicate of song. He finds his tunes on old 78s or from fellow travelers in the antediluvian world of oral tradition, and he reenergizes them with an enthusiasm and an earnestness that’s very much about how these songs fit right now.

Or, as he puts it in the new short but strong documentary Frank Fairfield, “You know, this is popular music, and these are popular songs. I don’t think they’re old songs. They’re here. They’re now songs. … All there is here and now.”

The 12-minute film follows Fairfield through a series of performances–street corners and flea markets, in a lonely brick hallway and on a sylvan stage at Pickathon, the Oregon music festival that appropriately began as a banjo and old-time convocation. Greg Vandy, a Seattle DJ for the influential public station KEXP, began pondering the film after Fairfield appeared on his show, The Roadhouse–“any ‘boomer’ definition of roots-rock turns classic-rock,” he says. What’s more, it fit into the work Vandy was considering for his website, American Standard Time, an archive of interviews and videos featuring some of the promising talent he brings to his shows.

“We had an in-studio session in 2009,” remembers Vandy. “He’s such a compelling character. There’s as much to see and to be introduced to beside the audio with Frank–his personality, his persona, his intellect, his whole way of thinking is equal parts to the music he makes, which is also incredible.”

Fairfield recently released his second album for Tompkins Square Records, a New York label that’s become a supreme outlet for acoustic sounds old, new and–as in Fairfield’s case–a little of both. Indeed, Out on the Open West finds Fairfield recanting own his early indications that he didn’t consider himself much of a songwriter. Most of these songs are actually his, though he explores his own words with the same use of old forms and modern vitality he offered on his perfect 2009 debut. It’s a steady and smart expansion of his catalogue, an indication of an artist that’s going to develop far beyond the conduit appeal of his debut.

“It’s a guy who understands what traditional music is all about. He knows all the songs, and he knows all about the interpretation of those songs. It’s like what I imagine a performer from the Anthology of American Folk Music would sound like,” says Vandy. “But I want to avoid the whole time-traveling thing. Frank doesn’t think that way. I’m not sure he even appreciates that aspect of time.”

Frank Fairfield has recently been accepted into several film festivals, including South by Southwest 2011 and the 2011 L.A. Film + Music Weekend. It will stream exclusively at IFC.COM for one week.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.