MUSIC

Surfaces Want Us All to Have a "Good Day"

The indie pop duo sat down with Popdust for an exclusive interview.

Capturing the sentimentality of summer is imperative for indie-pop duo Surfaces.

Surfaces - Good Day (Official Video) www.youtube.com

"Sunny days bring out some of the most positive aspects of life," the duo said in an exclusive interview with Popdust. "Summer always brings new experiences and encapsulates happy nostalgia." Perhaps that's what makes the irony of "Good Day" so endearing. "No more school, no more rules" lead singer Forest Frank croons over snapping fingers and a light strum of the guitar. The single wasn't released until October, and with school very much back in session and the weather shifting into the grey of winter, "Good Day's" bubbly persona hits listeners in a tender spot this time of year. The video, which finds Frank and guitarist Colin Padalecki relaxing near the pool, further captures the song's bright essence. We chatted more with the band about their first tour, their new album, and how they got into feel-good pop music.

How did you get into music?

C: "I was never formally taught any instrument growing up but I had a natural fascination about the music creation process. Being an avid music listener (like most people) I just had to know what was going on behind the curtain. I've always enjoyed writing, but weaving in music production seemed to give words a whole new purpose for me."

F: "My family had a piano in our living room that always caught my attention. I feel like I could sit at it for hours and never get bored. I loved coming up with melodies and discovering new chord structures. When I was around 17 I saw someone making beats on YouTube and instantly wanted to give it a shot. Once I started I didn't want to stop. Colin and I met up a few years later and the rest is history."

Tell me about "Good Day." What was the creative process like?

C: "Good Day is kind of a functional song in the way that it could be anyone's soundtrack to having a good time outside. The bossa nova chords and laid back drums are supposed to support the lax mood. It's one of the least intricate tracks we've released, which helps it to come across as an easy listen."

F: "We went 'big production' for our previous videos, so we wanted to try something more minimal. We wanted it to feel like the viewer was watching us chill in the back yard of a house…nothing special. Also, we wanted to match the minimalism of our artwork/brand in a way we hadn't done before."

How is tour life? Tell me about your upcoming tour?

C: "We wrapped up a summer tour a few months ago that was actually our first tour ever. It was awesome to see our fans singing the lyrics and genuinely enjoying themselves. Living in the positive environment we had been trying to create all along was such an amazing feeling. We are looking forward to keeping the same energy and intimacy on a bigger scale across the country. We hope every person who is able to make it to this next tour walks away feeling like a better version of themselves. That has always been the goal!"

What can we expect from your new album?

F: "This next project is basically a culmination of everything we've made so far. There really is something for everyone. It can't really be described by genre, but it feels cohesive. To us it sounds like the wholesome/positive energy of oldies music packaged in a more modern mix. There are a few songs that hit what our fans would expect, and others that are entirely new flavors. We are always trying to find new ways to express ourselves, which always keeps things interesting."

CULTURE

Nazi-Chic: The Aesthetics of Fascism

Let's take a look at Nazi-inspired fashion.

Villains always have the best outfits.

From Darth Vader's polished black space armor to The Joker's snazzy purple suit, bad guys always seem to show up their protagonists in the fashion department.

Way more handsome than Batman. static.giantbomb.com

But could there possibly be a real world equivalent to the type of over-the-top villain fashion often found in fiction? It would have to be sleek and imposing, austere and dangerous. Probably black.

Maybe it's him. Maybe it's fascist ideology.

Oh, right.

Let's call a spade a spade. From an aesthetic standpoint, the Nazi SS outfit is very well-designed. The long coat tied around the waist with a buckle portrays a slim, sturdy visage. The leather boots and matching cap look harsh and powerful. The emblem placements on the lapel naturally suggest rank and authority. And the red armband lends a splash of color to what would otherwise be a dark monotone. If the Nazi uniform wasn't so closely tied with the atrocities they committed during WWII, it wouldn't seem out of place at Fashion Week. Perhaps not too surprising, considering many of the uniforms were made by Hugo Boss.

Pictured: A real thing Hugo Boss did. i.imgur.com

Of course, today, Nazi uniform aesthetics are inseparable from the human suffering doled out by their wearers. In most circles of civilized society, that's more than enough reason to avoid the garb in any and all fashion choices. But for some, that taboo isn't a hindrance at all–if anything, it's an added benefit.

As a result, we have Nazi chic, a fashion trend centered around the SS uniform and related Nazi imagery.

History of Nazi Chic

For the most part, Nazi chic is not characterized by Nazi sympathy. Rather, Nazi chic tends to be associated with counterculture movements that view the use of its taboo imagery as a form of shock value, and ironically, anti-authoritarianism.

The movement came to prominence in the British punk scene during the mid-1970s, with bands like the Sex Pistols and Siouxsie and the Banshees displaying swastikas on their attire alongside other provocative imagery.

Very rotten, Johnny. i.redd.it

Around this time, a film genre known as Nazisploitation also came to prominence amongst underground movie buffs. A subgenre of exploitation and sexploitation films, Naziploitation movies skewed towards D-grade fare, characterized by graphic sex scenes, violence, and gore. Plots typically surrounded female prisoners in concentration camps, subject to the sexual whims of evil SS officers, who eventually escaped and got their revenge. However, the most famous Nazisploitation film, Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS, flipped the genders.

The dorm room poster that will ensure you never get laid. images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com

Ilsa was a female SS officer and the victims were men. She spent much of the movie wearing her Nazi uniform in various states, sexually abusing men all the while. As such, Ilsa played into dominatrix fantasies. The movie was a hit on the grindhouse circuit, inspiring multiple sequels and knock-offs and solidifying Nazi aesthetics as a part of the BDSM scene.

Since then, Nazi chic fashion has been employed by various artists, from Madonna to Marilyn Manson to Lady Gaga, and has shown up in all sorts of places from leather clubs to character designs in video games and anime.

Lady Gaga looking SS-uper. nyppagesix.files.wordpress.com

Nazi Chic in Asia

Nazi chic has taken on a life of its own in Asia. And unlike Western Nazi chic, which recognizes Nazism as taboo, Asian Nazi chic seems entirely detached from any underlying ideology.

A large part of this likely has to do with the way that Holocaust education differs across cultures. In the West, we learn about the Holocaust in the context of the Nazis committing horrific crimes against humanity that affected many of our own families. The Holocaust is presented as personal and closer to our current era than we might like to think. It is something we should "never forget." Whereas in Asia, where effects of the Holocaust weren't as prominent, it's simply another aspect of WWII which, in and of itself, was just another large war. In other words, Nazi regalia in Asia might be viewed as simply another historical military outfit, albeit a particularly stylish one.

In Japan, which was much more involved with WWII than any other Asian country, Nazi chic is usually (but not always) reserved for villainous representations.

OF COURSE. i.imgur.com

That being said, J-Pop groups like Keyakizaka46 have publicly worn Nazi chic too, and the phenomena isn't limited to Japan.

In South Korea, Indonesia, and Thailand, Nazi imagery has shown up in various elements of youth culture, completely void of any moral context. For instance, in Indonesia, a Hitler-themed fried chicken restaurant opened in 2013. And in Korea, K-Pop groups like BTS and Pritz have been called out for propagating Nazi chic fashion. Usually such incidents are followed by public apologies, but the lack of historical understanding makes everything ring hollow.

Implications

So the question then: is Nazi chic a bad thing?

The answer is not so black and white.

On one hand, seeing Nazi chic on the fashion scene may dredge up painful memories for Holocaust survivors and those whose family histories were tainted. In this light, wearing Nazi-inspired garb, regardless of intent, seems disrespectful and antagonistic. Worse than that, it doesn't even seem like a slight against authority so much as a dig at actual victims of genocide.

But on the other hand, considering the fact that even the youngest people who were alive during WWII are edging 80, "forgetting the Holocaust" is a distinct possibility for younger generations. In that regard, perhaps anything that draws attention to what happened, even if it's simply through the lens of "this outfit should be seen as offensive," might not be entirely bad. This, compounded by the fact that Nazi chic is not commonly associated with actual Nazi or nationalistic sentiments, might be enough to sway some people–not necessarily to wear, like, or even appreciate its aesthetics, but rather to understand its place within counterculture.

Ultimately, one's views on Nazi chic likely come down to their own personal taste and sensibilities. For some, Nazi chic is just a style, an aesthetic preference for something that happens to be mired in historical horror. For others, the shadow of atrocity simply hangs too strong.

MUSIC

Lil Nas X Won't Leave You Alone in the New "Panini" Video

It's the hitmaker's latest video, and it marks his official metamorphosis from cowboy to robot.

Lil Nas X has officially hacked the system.

The official video for "Panini" just dropped, and it's an ultra-futuristic, Blade Runner-inspired montage of neon lights and dancing holograms.

In the video, the "Old Town Road" singer essentially stalks a girl to the point that she eventually leaps out of an airplane (wearing a parachute) in order to escape his advances—of course, that doesn't work, and he floats after her wearing hover-boots. It's creepy if you think of it as a genuine depiction of stalking, but here's hoping that Lil Nas X meant this as an allegory for the fact that his songs are just impossible to get out of one's head, or that he's an inescapable presence in the media.

This seems even more likely when you remember that Lil Nas X is openly gay, and just yesterday he spoke out about why he waited until he was famous to come out. So it wouldn't make sense for him to manufacture a straight relationship in his music video (right?).

Regardless, the song "Panini" itself is a smooth one minute-and-fifty-five-second post-genre earworm. If it sounds familiar, that's because the chorus sounds borrows from Nirvana's "In Bloom"—which Kurt Cobain's daughter, Francis Bean, just officially approved. Ultimately, it proves once again that Lil Nas X is a master at revamping some of the deepest archetypes in American iconography (cowboys and robots) and putting his own charming, absurd twist on them. He's playing all of us, and yet he means it completely.

Lil Nas X - Panini (Official Video) www.youtube.com