MSTRKRFT’s “Priceless” Video Is An Orwellian Dystopia

Photo by Misha Vladimirskiy

Don’t you ever wonder who’s inside your head?

Indie dance duo MSTRKRFT first worked their way into our playlists when single "Easy Love" broke back in 2006, then cemented their place in our indie-electro vernacular when "Heartbreaker" (done with John Legend on vocals) stampeded into everyone's DJ sets in 2009. It's been quite the hiatus since their last full album, Fist of God, but now they are back with Operator, due out on July 22 via Last Gang Records.

Truth be told, Jesse F. Keeler (aka JFK) and Al-P began work on Operator back in 2013 at their Toronto studio. It's a testament to years of a carefully curated arsenal of hardware and synths, a journey that saw them not only try to accurately represent where they were sonically, but figure out how to replicate it during a live performance. The result was a mad scientist's lab of equipment, with a spaghetti-like sea of cables connecting stacks of 808s, 909s, and other apparatus (seen dynamically at work in the video for "Party Line"). “A big part of the sound is the curation of equipment,” says Al-P. “There’s no trickery—what you hear is what you get and we’re not manipulating anything afterwards. We set limits for ourselves sonically and stylistically as far as the palette goes.”

As an album, Operator is jarringly different from MSTRKRFT's other releases. It's dark, industrial, and post-punk with elements of electro mixed in, lending a dystopian feel to a very raw soundscape. There's no replica of "Heartbreaker" here, but plenty of distortion and hypnotic, grinding synth loops. Now, debuting the militant and Orwellian video for "Priceless" from Operator, we caught up with JFK to talk about censorship, nerding out, and their personal punk recommendations.

Why did it take so long for Operator to come together?
JFK: After touring Fist of God for about two years, we wanted to take a break and think about how we wanted to work going forward. I guess we could have just kept doing what we were doing at the time, but it wasn't satisfying us musically. We decided we wanted to be able to play fully live, and that meant whatever we did in the studio needed to be on gear we could travel with. We spent a while curating that and doing tests to be sure that this was what we wanted to do. After we got all that figured out, then we would rehearse like a band… and record while we did. That's actually how this record came together.

This record sounds harsh and more industrial than your previous work... why is that?
JFK: It wasn't a decision we made, in terms of sound or style. The only real change was making a decision to not censor our ideas or worry about what the end results would be. We just wanted to make things that we connected to emotionally. Not to say the previous work wasn't reflective of where our heads were at the time, but back then, I don’t think we would have let things get this heavy or noisy.

The new live setup looks overwhelming with all of the gear and cables! What was the thought process behind it?
JFK: A lot of the cables are processing related. People in a club are used to DJs playing mastered audio, so we knew we needed to have everything to achieve that onstage with us. The fun stuff is all the drum machines, mixer, and our two modular setups. Working with the Eurorack [modular] format means the instruments get to evolve over time, and it really satisfies the gear nerd part of our brains.

In many ways, Operator sounds more organic than a lot of music that is made on computers. Why do you think that is? 
JFK: Probably because it's all essentially live recordings, just without an audience. The songs all started off being 20 minutes or longer, so we edited them down to fit on the album, but most of the experimentation that led to the different moments that became songs is on there. Sometimes it's very apparent, like on the song called "Death in the Gulf Stream." That's pretty much unedited. I’m not sure how that could happen naturally with a computer. 

You've said this album meant to be totally, and completely you... would you say that "old" MSTRKRFT pandered to what was popular?
JFK: Not at all [laughs]. What we mean is that previously our records had a concept that we worked toward or drew inspiration from. This time, the only idea was that we would do whatever we wanted. With Fist of God, we did think that the concept was where dance music was headed, because certainly when we made the record that wasn't what was happening. I remember showing DJ AM "Heartbreaker," and he was so confused as to why we would make a song like that [laughs].

This sounds so entirely different from everything going on in dance music right now. Was that intentional?
JFK: It's a nice thing to hear, but no it wasn't intentional. The only reactionary part of what we are doing now is really playing live. The concept of a live show in dance music as something where happy errors or improvisation weren't possible was very unappealing to us.  

What do you think of the current trends in dance music? Do you have a guilty pleasure song?
JFK: I think there’s great stuff happening in dance music, and there always will be, it just takes a bit more work to find. I love when I hear a track and learn that it almost doesn't exist online. My guilty pleasure song is this one song my kid loves called "Best Friends" by Sophia Grace.   

There is definite emotion to Operator. Would you agree? What kind of emotions does it bring up for you? 
JFK: Yes, although I don't know if we can ever listen to it the same way someone else can. It's hard to hear it without also thinking about all the micro decisions that were made through the process. The record is a reflection of where our heads were at while we made it. There's a bleakness to it at times that I find sort of comforting. Sometimes I listen to it and think, "There isn’t really one happy moment on the whole album" [laughs].

What punk bands would you recommend people check out?
JFK: Definitely the bands of the guys who did vocals on the album… The VSS, Nation of Ulysses, and Converge. Some others that we love are Arab On Radar, Crom-Tech, Crossed Out, Daughters… I could list many! Oddly, I just noticed that list is alphabetical. Not on purpose!

We also see Margot Robbie take on Sharon Tate

The new trailer for Quentin Tarantino's upcoming movie Once Upon a Time in Hollywood gives a look at the Manson Family. In the previous clip, we saw Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio at their funniest. Now, we get to see Margot Robbie take on actress Sharon Tate, Lena Dunham become a cult member, and how the fictional and real-life story lines will intersect in the film.

Per a press release, the film—that follows a fictional story set around the time of the real-life Manson murders—"visits 1969 Los Angeles, where everything is changing, as TV star Rick Dalton (DiCaprio) and his longtime stunt double Cliff Booth (Pitt) make their way around an industry they hardly recognize anymore."

In this clip, after being introduced to Dalton and Booth, viewers get to see how the latter ends up mingling with the Manson Family. As Booth picks up a girl (Margaret Qualley) on the side of the road, he unknowingly welcomes a Manson family member into his life and begins to visit their ranch. The fiction and real-life stories intersect when we find out that Dalton lives next store to Tate, who was murdered by the members of Charles Manson's cult in 1969.

Watch the new trailer for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood ahead of its July 26 theatrical release, below.


Photos by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

This photo proves that they are the chillest onscreen family

Sophie Turner just posted a photo of herself, Maisie Williams, and Isaac Hempstead Wright—aka the Stark siblings—to her Instagram, showing just what the three used to get up to when the Game of Thrones cameras weren't rolling.

The photo shows Wright looking quite pleased with himself while sitting on a makeshift throne, wearing no pants. As he should be, seeing as (spoiler) his character, Bran, won the Iron Throne this weekend. Williams, meanwhile, is looking way too cool to be involved in the shenanigans, wearing a pair of black sunglasses and staring absently off-camera. As for Turner, she's looking away from her onscreen brother, too, nervously smoking a Juul.

"The pack survived," Turner captioned the photo.

This photo just goes to prove that the Stark siblings are the chillest onscreen family. (It also proves, yet again, that Turner's social media is an absolute delight.)

We're actually a little sad that this footage didn't make it into the final season, considering how many modern-day objects have been spotted in the show's last few episodes.

Photo via @mileycyrus on Twitter

Meet Ashley

Miley Cyrus shared the trailer for her forthcoming Black Mirror episode, and it's basically Hannah Montana set in a dystopian future. Cyrus is a pink wig-wearing pop star named Ashley who is rolling out an in-home virtual assistant, named Ashley Too, that looks like her and shares her voice. But, as is the case with every Black Mirror episode, this technology is not as cute and fun as it's advertised to be.

In the trailer, we get the idea that Ashley is all about wanting fans to "believe" in themselves—but underneath that pink wig, maybe she doesn't feel that same self-love. After Ashley Too introduces herself to fan and new owner Rachel, promising to be her friend, we get a look at Ashley's darker side. She's depressed and tired of the pop star life. A record label executive says to several people in the room, "She doesn't understand how fragile all this is." As they consider upping her dose of medication, Ashley's life is on a downward slope. "It's getting so hard to keep doing this," she voices over glimpses of a police car chase, performances, and breakdowns backstage.

But back to the technology: Does Ashley's breakdown also mean the breakdown of Ashley Too? Looks like it. We see Rachel's virtual assistant screaming, "Get that cable out of my ass! Holy shit! Pull it out," breathing a sigh of relief as soon as they pull it out. A title card then reveals the episode name, "Rachel, Jack, and Ashley Too."

Watch the full trailer and get a full view of Cyrus' cyborg-esque pop star look, below. Black Mirror returns to Netflix on June 5.

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Photo by Paras Griffin / Stringer / Getty Images.

Several actresses allegedly had "issues" with him

Lena Waithe's Showtime series, The Chi, just lost one of its main characters. Jason Mitchell, who was also set to appear in the Netflix film Desperados, has been dropped from both projects following multiple allegations of misconduct. He has also been dropped by his agent and manager.

Hollywood Reporter heard from a source "with knowledge" of The Chi, who says that Tiffany Boone, the actress who plays Mitchell's girlfriend on the show, is just one of several actresses who had "issues" with him. She eventually told producers at Fox21 that she could no longer work with him after filing several sexual harassment complaints. Apparently, her fiancé, Dear White People co-star Marque Richardson, would join her on set when she would shoot with Mitchell.

While news of Mitchell's alleged misconduct is just now beginning to surface, it looks like the ball started rolling on the fallout weeks ago. He was dropped from Desperados and replaced by Lamorne Morris before filming began. A source from the production team said that the producers received "specific information" that they reviewed and acted on quickly. Similarly, a source familiar with Mitchell's former agent, UTA, said the decision to drop him a few weeks ago was very quick following the allegations.

Photo by Rachel Murray/Getty Images

Prior to the college admissions scandal, she said she doesn't "care about school"

Apparently, Olivia Jade wants to go back to school despite all those YouTube videos that suggested otherwise. Back in March, it was revealed that her mom, Fuller House actress Lori Loughlin, and dad, Mossimo Giannulli, had scammed Jade's way into the University of Southern California. Now, Loughlin faces jail time, and Jade lost out on plenty of lucrative ad partnerships.

According to Us Weekly, "Olivia Jade wants to go back to USC," per a source. "She didn't get officially kicked out and she is begging the school to let her back in." Another source though ousted Jade's real motivation to the publication. "She knows they won't let her in, so she's hoping this info gets out," they shared. "She wants to come out looking like she's changed, learned life lessons and is growing as a person, so she for sure wants people to think she is interested in her education."

Jade previously shared in a YouTube video she's in college for the "experience of like game days, partying" rather than the education. She also said, "I don't know how much of school I'm going to attend... I don't really care about school, as you guys all know." Though these statements were made prior to the scandal coming to light, her brand partnerships didn't come into question until her parents were indicted.

Right now, despite previous reports that Jade and her sister would both be dropping out of USC, Jade's enrollment has been placed on hold—meaning she cannot register for classes, or even withdraw from the school—until her parents' court case comes to a close. Then, the school will make its own decision as to how Jade will be affected. I think, either way, she should have to pay off a few of her classmates' loans for all the BS she pulled.