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Cursive’s Tim Kasher On Soundtracking Our Ride To Hell

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Photo Via 15 Passenger.

‘Vitriola’ is out now

Every day, we seem to be inching closer and closer to the end of the world. But if there ever was a person who could articulate the special kind of angst that accompanies an impending apocalypse, it's Cursive frontman Tim Kasher.

Though it's been six years since Cursive released their last album, the music veterans finally returned this year with Vitriola. A record that practically fell into place for the group, Vitriola sees the return of their use of cello, and also of both founding drummer, Clint Schnase, and the production stylings of Saddle Creek Records mainstay, Mike Mogis. And despite what Kasher would prefer, it's an album that unintentionally returned to the ardent, anxious sound Cursive became known for via releases like 2000's Domestica and 2003's The Ugly Organ. But perhaps that's because what Cursive is and always will be at its core: A project that's been made so relatable thanks to Kasher's raw and somewhat abrasive songwriting. 

With Vitriolathough, Cursive's focus is objectively far less self-reflexive than previous works that Kasher himself would consider "solipsistic." As of late, the biggest thing on Kasher's mind hasn't been his own life. Like so many other people, he's been horrified by the sad state of American affairs, as well as the dismay and despair that accompanies bearing witness to extreme inequity and outright xenophobia. 

And while Kasher is well aware of the amount of privilege he wields in this situation as a straight, middle-aged white man, he still believes expressing his personal frustrations and making space for marginalized perspectives are not mutually exclusive. In fact, the idea that both things can coexist is something he believes we should be talking about more. 

In honor of the record's release, we sat down with Kasher to talk about everything from accidentally returning to his roots to the importance of staying in your lane and everything in between. Read our Q&A with him, below.

Listening to this new album, I really was struck by how it felt like a return to The Ugly Organ days, what a lot of people would consider “old” Cursive. Was this kind of a conscious decision or was this something that kind of fell into place?
I think much more of a fell into place. If anything, there had been conscious efforts over the years to not do The Ugly Organ again for fear that it would seem that we were trying to capitalize on something that we were successful with. And also just, more importantly, not rehashing any of our catalog...

When it came to this new record, I broached it as I love working with strings and [cellist Megan Seibe]'s likely going to be out performing with us anyway, so you might want to consider that she'll probably be playing on these songs live. Do we want to beat that to the punch and we could actually just incorporate that into the music? But honestly, we didn't bring Megan in until everything was laid in. And we were still ready to not use it. That's how delicate of a decision it is for us. Again, just because we don't want to come across as treading the same waters, in familiar waters. But I promise that all of it is just happenstance. Matt [Maginn], Ted [Stevens], and I, after starting our label, 15 Passenger, we were initially just going to reissue our catalog. But we got excited about [the idea of,] we can release anything. Or nothing. We can give you whatever we want. 

So we started talking about it, and we started being open to the idea in a really non-committal fashion. But then Clint [Schnase], our first drummer, reached out to us aside through all that, expressing interest in doing another record with us, which we're ecstatic about. So that really set everything in motion.

Working with [producer Mike Mogis] again is really just a matter of. We liked the producers we worked with, but we're not beholden to anybody. It's been over a decade since we worked with him. Why not work with him again? Let's see if he'd be willing to do it. It all really is just coincidental circumstance, but it all comes off a lot like we are doing.

All that said, it had been six years since we had done a record and it was the first time we worked with Clint in over a decade. I'm realizing this now, but we had zero ideas or plans going into it... We didn't have anything set. We didn't set forward with any ideas for this record, resulting in something that we now realize probably sounds more like Cursive than anything else, which then ultimately sounds like older Cursive.

I think the most obvious thing that separates Vitriola from more recent Cursive releases is that it's a lot less rigidly themed, conceptually speaking. But, I'm assuming you can chalk that up to not even really intending to do all this.
Yeah, I didn't have any ideas set in mind. Actually, now I feel like I have to backpedal a little bit, because one idea I did have in mind, is that I really didn't want it to be thematic. 

I just feel like we are careful about wanting to avoid being pigeonholed, and we shouldn't be expected to do a conceptual record. I know some people love that, I don't mean to be dismissive of that, it's just that we want to keep moving in different directions. I always want to conceptualize records, and it's more of a challenge for me not to. Even this one is still a one-piece, but it was a concerted effort to try to not put those structures. Especially because [our last record I Am Geminiwas the most conceptualized thing that we had ever done. I was really trying to go in a different direction than that. 

Even though there wasn’t a concept overtly spelled out for the listener, it felt like the songs on the new album were connected by a feeling of nihilism or bleakness.
Yeah, it is kind of bleak. And nihilism definitely rears its head. I don't feel like it's over-political, but it is based off of the feelings that many of us are experiencing day-to-day as a reaction from the news. 

 That said, in terms of politically charged works, there has been a lot of discourse about how this is a time for straight, white men to kind of take a backseat—to listen rather than continue putting themselves out there. Did that ever sort of give you pause while writing an album that’s, in a nutshell, about the frustrations you have about America right now?
That's a good consideration. I was gonna say I haven't really thought about it, but that's not true. I actually do think about that a lot. I think it's important as a writer. So for myself, as a middle-aged white male, which is really amongst the least interesting demographic right now… When I get in these conversations, I'm always quick to respond that it's like, I shouldn't be so flippant about it because really all it means is that, if we're less interested in the white middle-aged male story, that only means that next year it will be like 60 percent instead of 90 percent [of those stories still being told]. It's still going to be the majority. It's still so completely the majority. 

What I'd like to say positively about this is that I do think about it, and it's important. It's important to me, and I think it's important for any writer to stay the course and keep writing what you write, because that's what we're all supposed to do. It really shouldn't be about any negativity toward a white male or toward any specific category. But, thankfully, now there's more space being shared for more people's voices, more people's stories.

I think it's always really interesting to talk about anyway. Even that said, this record probably still is very identity-driven, just in the sense that the stuff that I do always ends up being that. This isn't as obscenely solipsistic as stuff I've done in the past, but it's still so much from my point of view. I even try to be aware of, when I'm working on this stuff, the place of privilege that certain points of view can come from. Sometimes they're intentionally flippant and other times, I recognize, no, that's just what I know. I'm just coming from places that I'm familiar with, you know?

As you said, you have been criticized as solipsistic at times. What do you think about all the people who almost weaponize your self-awareness? The ones that make it a point of contention rather than a sign of strength.
I guess I try to avoid them. They feel not altogether healthy for me. It's not altogether healthy to focus on good reviews either, you know? That's a slippery slope though, because I believe that criticism is so helpful and can be so beneficial to anybody's path in writing. I also tend to think, when I run into those more aggressive, negative opinions, I'll remind myself that that's a person, that's an opinion. They have the right to that. I can use it as constructive criticism, or I feel comfortable to decide that they have a chip on their shoulder against you. 

You don’t think you ever really internalize that feedback?
Unfortunately, I have. I'd say that I'm so aware of the shift, and I'm not proud to say this. I'm aware of the shift that occurred in my music over a period of years—five to maybe even 10 years, although that seems like a long time—where emo was being used as a [negative] word. It was at the tail end of it. There was so much negative feedback toward that genre that I was ultimately included in, though we'd never even placed ourselves in it. I just know we were placed in it. Some people placed us in it on our behalf. I felt exhausted by this public attitude—everyone was sick of the navel-gazing and just didn't want it anymore. I found it frustrating.

Aren't all people inclined to navel-gaze in some capacity, though?
I thought the whole attitude was destructive—to shit on this self-aware style of writing, self-reflexive writing, or personal writing. It all felt unhealthy to me, but I couldn't help but notice that it was having an effect on my writing. I feel older, and perhaps more mature now, and I've shed that and came back to feeling more comfortable writing how I feel like writing. I just accept the criticism or try to avoid it. 

I don't think anyone should be ashamed of wanting to be self-reflexive. Or of taking the time to do that.
I just think it's just damaging in an art community to attack anyone. I've attacked EDM before. Now I'd actually like to go back and take it back. There was an interview I did a few years back where I was just expressing how little I understood it. 

I don't know. Actually, I wouldn't even say anything bad about them. I guess what I'm saying now is I'd prefer not say anything bad about any of it, because it doesn't really feel productive. Especially to an umbrella genre like that. There's so much more. There's so much involved with that. That'd be like looking at country and being like, "I hate country." 

We need to parse it and figure out what you don't like, and what you don't care for. Which is your subjective opinion and it's totally yours, and you should have that. 

Speaking of being lumped under the whole “emo” umbrella, what was that like for you?
It did have an effect on me. It was just like, "Oh, I'm part of the problem, apparently." You know?

I find comfort in what critics, not even just critics but what the music industry, started calling the fourth wave of emo. I was really blown away. This was five years ago now, I guess. I was playing the fest down in Gainesville, and playing with all these bands. Some of them ended up being really successful bands, like The World Is a Beautiful Place... I guess my long-winded point is I'm really glad it's happening for people. It all seems great out there. I'm positive that if young people are back to feeling comfortable about laying it all out there, and being upset, or writing their diary-esque songs, they should. People should just do that. Or not. The thing is that we just shouldn't shit on it. We can not like it. I just hate the idea of stifling it.

You are at that point where you do have a lot of younger fans now. Like, Cursive has a definitive legacy. Has their interest in your body of work surprised you at all?
Yeah, even just the most recent tour that I did, I should confess some surprise. Because, mind you, I'm 44 now, and the number of people in their 20s… These are people that were in grade school when I was really out releasing things. 

That's kind of wild... I might be a generation gone from a new set of teenagers.

You really gonna write yourself off like that?
Yeah. I mean, if they get stuck on what I do, that's great. I appreciate it. It makes sense though, and it's really funny and so odd to be a part of that. I recognize that we are.

One final big, vague question in line with the album’s theme: What does America mean to you right now?
You know, I'm not a politician. I didn't study politics, so my answers would certainly be generalized. But for years, for most of my adult life, I guess, I've been pretty dubious of capitalism. So I'm not sure how I feel about it. I've never been in love with this country. I try to walk that line carefully, because, you know, back to privilege. I mean, we're living in such an insane amount of privilege. I mean, we could just start piecing together where we are right now. So I don't want to be so dismissive in that regard, but, yeah, I'm not sure that I'm convinced that the foundation is even that strong or that great. I definitely know we don't need to be so reverent to a Constitution that was written a really long time ago. I'll be okay if we started changing that around somewhat, but in other ways, it's actually still managing to protect us, so that's good.

This current administration though has certainly helped me to further recognize how opposed I am to many Republican points of view, all of them which are, to me, based back into capitalism. That's where I think rampant capitalism is a problem. I think that some form of capitalism... it should be obvious that it should be applied hand-in-hand with ethics, and it just feels like it's not. Actually, I know it's not.

Cursive's Vitriola is out now.

Photo by Handout / Getty Images.

From selling probiotic supplements to picture frames and umbrellas

A Kardashian-level of success doesn't happen overnight, and it certainly doesn't happen without proper planning. Kim Kardashian West clearly knows this because, according to TMZ, she has already filed for trademark protection on the name of her two-week-old baby, Psalm West. From personal appearances and entertainment services to probiotic supplements and scrunchies, she is leaving no stone unturned in terms of possible business opportunities.

Apparently, all of the Kardashian parents file these kinds of trademark protections for their kids even if the businesses never come to fruition. It's done as a precautionary measure to keep others from profiting off of their name and to make sure that, should they ever want to start a business, they don't have to worry about someone else getting to it first. The sheer length of this list speaks to the huge earning potential of baby Psalm, who can't even control his own neck muscles yet, let alone go into business. Still, this brings a whole new meaning to "securing the bag."

Below, a list of all the things Kardashian West is seeking usage rights for.

Hair accessories

Barrettes

Bands

Bows

Clips

Ties

Ornaments

Pins

Scrunchies

Chopsticks

Twisters

Wrap

Hair extensions

Ornamental novelty pins

Entertainment services

Personal appearances

Skin care

Probiotic supplements

Toy figures

Doll accessories

Computer software

Clothing

Baby bottles

Furniture

Strollers

Beverageware

Swaddling

Blankets

Skin moisturizers

Lotions

Creams

Bubble bath

Fragrances

Body powders

Shower gels

Body oils

Skin serums

Nail polish

Nail polish remover

Nail care preparations

Puppets

Puzzles

Toy jewelry

Toy cameras

Toy food

Bath toys

Baby gyms

Playground balls

Electronic action toys

Baby bouncers

Baby changing tables

Baby walkers

Pillows

Mirrors

Cushions

Picture frames

Playpens

Baby carriers

Cosmetic bags

Toiletry cases

Duffle bags

Umbrellas

Clocks

Watches

Key chains

Calendars

Books

photo albums

Stationery

Stickers

Writing utensils

Collectible trading cards

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FROM THE WORLD WIDE WEB
Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Well, actually it's crocodile, but she looks out of this world so...

Winnie Harlow walked the Cannes red carpet on Wednesday on her way to a screening of Oh Mercy!, wearing a showstopping gown.

The sheer black dress featured green embroidery on the front and back, which Ralph and Russo confirmed was in the shape of a crocodile. She belted the dress with a black crocodile skin-like belt and finished the look off with some strappy heels. She didn't leave it at just that. For beauty, Harlow packed on full lids of sparkly purple eyeshadow. She kept her hair sleek and simple.

Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Though the brand says otherwise, as Game of Thrones fans, we'd like to think the embroidery is reminiscent of a dragon's skin. Not to mention, Harlow looks out-of-this-world beautiful in it.

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Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

That denim kimono!!

Marion Cotillard shut down the Cannes red carpet on Wednesday at a screening for Matthias Et Maxime. Instead of an extravagant gown that's expected of the event, Cotillard wore a matching black crop top and shorts. Despite wearing an outfit I typically don to a hot yoga class, she looks incredible. She completed the look with an oversized denim kimono, a statement necklace, and heeled booties.

Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

At first, I was drawn in by the crop top and hotpants duo, but, after looking closer at the kimono, it's clear that it's the real scene-stealer. The floor-length Balmain piece was decorated with artful rips and dragon motifs. I would like to live in it.

Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Let's all bow down to the Khaleesi of Cannes.

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Photo by Frazer Harrison / Getty Images.

"It doesn't make you weak to ask for help"

Singer Billie Eilish is continuing to open up about mental health, this time in a new PSA video in partnership with the Ad Council and Seize the Awkward.

In the video, Eilish insists that "it doesn't make you weak to ask for help." She doubles down on the importance of asking for help, and stresses the importance of friends and family being there when their close ones reach out and checking in on them as well. "You should be able to ask anyone for help, everyone has to help someone if they need it." According to Eilish, there have been times when someone reached out to her at the exact moment she needed it, and it helped.

It was particularly refreshing to see Eilish acknowledge that there are things she still doesn't know and has to learn about her mental health. At the very beginning of the video, the interviewer asks her to reflect on her mental health journey, and all Eilish can do is let out chortle. "I think when people hear, 'Remember to take care of your mental health,' they think that everyone else is, and that is not at all accurate," she admitted. "You know, for me I'm trying to learn still to make sure that I stay okay."

Check out the PSA below.

Billie Eilish On Mental Health & Friendship | Ad Council www.youtube.com

Photograph via @kimkardashian.

"#NotOnMyMoodBoard"

Kim Kardashian has definitely been accused of borrowing a design now and then. But when Instagram influencer and Kardashian look-alike Kamilla Osman claimed the entrepreneur copied her birthday look for a Met Gala after-party, Kardashian was not going to let it fly—and shared plenty of photo evidence to shut down the claim.

Fashion industry watchdog Diet Prada first noticed Osman's claims on Instagram and shared side-by-side images of Kardashian's Cher-inspired outfit designed by Mugler and Osman's dress. "Never get confused with who 'inspires' who. They won't give you credit but they will copy," Osman wrote on her IG story. "I designed this dress for my birthday last year. Nobody had a dress like this was an original design."

Kardashian responded by posting the true inspiration behind her look: images of Cher, in similarly sparkly, plunging-neckline dresses and wigs, and of model Yasmeen Ghauri walking a Mugler show in the '90s. In fact, the only similarity between Osman's and Kardashian's looks is the bodycon mini-dress style, which the two are not the first to wear. Among the images, Kardashian included a blank slide with the hashtag "NotOnMyMoodBoard," making it clear that this was in response to Osman's claims.

Screenshot via @KimKardashian Instagram Stories

Screenshot via @KimKardashian Instagram Stories

Though I am with Kim on this one, Kardashian does have a history of co-opting other people's work. From being sued over her Kimoji app, to claims she copied makeup palettes and perfume bottle designs, to being accused of copying Naomi Campbell's entire style, it's far from the first (and probably, far from the last) time Kardashian's name will be mentioned like this.

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