Archive for the 'sElf' Category


Self Performs Subliminal Plastic Motives in NYC (Draft Resurrection)

A post began in January of ’14 after spending 24 hours in NYC to witness sElf perform their debut record Subliminal Plastic Motives. A review of sorts.

I take risks for music. Sometimes I lay it all on the line for an experience that would haunt me if missed. My younger, less in-tune sElf didn’t care, the present is all that mattered.

I was immersed in a job I deplored. Without a solid new prospect, I walked away after my term ended. At the moment, all I could think of was freedom from the shackles this monotonous five day a week slog presented. Fast forward some, I was presented the opportunity to move into my girlfriend’s condo; she knew I was struggling to pay rent after cobbling a few odd jobs together to form a paltry monthly salary. The relationship had heated up, and the alternative to her offer was finding as many roommates as possible.

Matt and Cool J said it best, “Cause when you’re broke, your middle name is so-what”. Shame didn’t exist in the conversation between my girlfriend and I when she asked what I could afford to pay her in rent. Her face remained stoic as I broke down my expenses and income. A brief period passed in silence – seconds felt gelatinous – and she presented her plan, or financial expectation, of me officially shacking up beside her. She cared for me, this landlord was generous: her rent request was attainable, it might even leave a -tiny – surplus at the end of the month.

Matt Mahaffey, the pop mastermind behind sElf, announced at the end of October his act was going to be playing 2.5 months from now in New York City to commemorate a re-issue of their wide-ranging debut Subliminal Plastic Motives. My financial woes didn’t exist after this announcement was made. A sElf gig in New York City, my favorite city like ever, wasn’t going to be a special opportunity; this was an obligation. Instinctually I fired up Southwest Airlines’s website to see the new depth of the red my financial situation would be.

“I’m struggling to hear this, you’re paying me a subsidized rent because of your work situation. And I hear now you’re going to New York City to see a band”, said my girlfriend. A band, please, girl.

“Well, yeah…but with rent, I can’t swipe my credit card through your wallet; Southwest happily accepted it,” I sheepishly said.

When you’re only making so much per month, your line of credit is the equivalent of a side hustle, without it, you’re incapable of doing anything besides groceries and rent. Subliminal Plastic Motives was worth any titanic-like battle between my girlfriend and I.

This record strutted down a different path: it was distortion heavy, the grunge feel was there thanks to Mike Mahaffey’s guitar work. But jazzy piano samples, purple-robed funk, crunchy bass interspersed with lounge-ready piano renditions made it unique. A 90s record ran through an anti-status quo filter.

Mahaffey and his crew ripped through the record in its entirety at the semi-intimate Gramercy Theatre in NYC. His sElfies, a tribe of fans following his quirky and funky pop movement, packed this 500 person capacity venue.

The beauty of a 20-year-old record is the time it’s had with listeners. A fan, perhaps one from its inception, has spun that record countless times — maybe the disc even lost its life after too many plays. sElf being an act who only toured so much, and wasn’t one to consistently play gigs in the 00s, most songs off this record had never been experienced live. The energy and enthusiasm coursing through the venue was palpable. I was amped!

We place the needle down on a record from our youth hoping for that nostalgic period; maybe it’s an escape from our current reality and a yearning for a simpler time. I was ready to be transported back in time.

Mahaffey is a loud and proud Prince fan. He marches onto the stage holding a wax copy of SPM as Prince’s “1999” instrumental kicks in; Matt adlibs over the music:

I was 20 when I wrote this, forgive me if it’s old as fuck/The scene was all grungy there was Big Muff pedals everywhere/ you try to run from my distortion you know I didn’t even care/ They say 2000 ZERO ZERO party over/ Tonight we’re going to party like it’s 19-95. 2000 ZERO ZERO party over/ Tonight we’re going to party like it’s 19-95. Don’t you wanna go, don’t you wanna go back to 19-95…

Upon completion of “1999”‘s new verse, the quartet tore into SPM’s opener, “Borateen”. After ripping through the album at a blistering speed, the treasure chest was unveiled:

  • Brooklyn (intro)
  • Dielya Downtown
  • Glued to the Girl
  • Trunk Fulla Amps
  • Empire State of Mind (teaser)
  • cont. Trunk Fulla Amps
  • Meg Ryan
  • Titanic (featuring I Fight Dragons)

Today, during what is a national pandemic, the thought of traveling cross-country to experience music is surreal. This opportunity presented itself, and I took a chance. Reminiscing on this event makes me grateful for gambling on my relationship and credit score. Nothing should be taken for granted because uncertainty is real. sElf in NYC, performing the record that introduced me to their movement, created an adventure; one that was once in a lifetime. You don’t have to understand the last sentence, only so many can fathom what music presents to us.

sElf is an act that altered my musical and friendship trajectory. This light review is a much needed flashback and reminds me why we become so invested in music. The timing is irrelevant, what is transpiring around me doesn’t matter, full-time I’m buckwild for sElf.


This is what happiness sounds like, according to Matt Mahaffey…

The iPod is no more. You and all your friends stream music. There is no more peering into someone’s soul by picking up their iPod or music specific device to see what aurally pleases them. The next best thing in 2015, the playlist. Right? Prince’s protege, Matt Mahaffey, or the music impresario behind sElf, has curated a happiness playlist. It’s 27 tracks deep and contains safe, Mahaffey-like picks like Beck’s “Hollywood Freaks” and Prince’s “17 Days” —remember this? But keeps us guessing by including hair metal meets AC/DC “Shake Me” by Cinderella and none other than Fatlip with his Knight Rider inspired “Cook” track.

A brief Q&A session with Matt.


Top 3 EPs of ’14 In No Order…

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Perhaps it’s the inability to focus on much for long. Or maybe I only have limited patience for a whole record before wanting to aurally ingest another vibe. Regardless, the EP is a preferred format. Many of my favorite extended plays have been introductions to acts. A sampler — or a track or two — can only go so far. If the act hits hard, I want more. The EP gives you enough to not tire of that artist before a proper full length is released. The material that the EP provides, especially those artists who may be debuting themselves on record, aren’t providing you with filler — sometimes the debut EP is the best thing the band ever does. It’s 4-6 tracks that don’t stop. What’s below are two absolute favorite artists in EP format and a newcomer to me.

sElf :: Super Fake Nice

Matt Mahaffey of one man jam fame sElf has been teasing us with “Super Fake Nice” for a minute. It ended up being an EP, one six songs deep and housing five new ones. Rewind 14 years ago, and Gizmodgery and its toys took over my speakers. Now in 2014, I have an official sElf release to monopolize my ears. From the opener, “Runaway”, with its smile inducing melody and shoulder shake inducing bounce, to the closer, “Splitting Atoms”, with its SPM-era fuzz and driving guitars, lies six classical sElf numbers bristling with Matt’s recipe for my aural satiety. His fusion of 80s beats and rhymes, an adulation for Prince, sugary pop sensibilities, and a 19 year old solid track record make Super Fake Nice an automatic go-to for 2014.

Forgotten Species :: Hades Fades

A debut EP from one of the most trusted names in my musical catalog. Blake Smith, a co-creator of Chicago staples Fig Dish, Caviar, and the Prairie Cartel, has unveiled his latest concoction: Forgotten Species. The Hades Fades EP is self-described “noise-pop”. A barrage of distorted cacophony care of ear plug inducing guitars is laced throughout the five tracks, sure. But interwoven amongst the fuzz and Brit influences are pure pop songs, ones that Blake has been writing for two decades. It’s not that he has a formula that he’s repeated with four previous acts, it’s the man knows how to construct songs that matter. Tracks I’ve been repeating since ’95. One part wit and charm through well penned lyricism; two parts rock; one part Chicago hustle.

Tourist :: Patterns EP

Soulful house, music that the right church, one that wants to lose themselves in celestial, gospel-like lyrical patterns could embrace, if their pews were sturdy enough. Tourist, a London-based DJ/producer welcomed himself into my speakers this year. Four tracks, all pulsating with an eruption of beats as a foundation as minimalist yet powerful vocals evoking a better tomorrow drive me into one of the most played EPs of 2014.






Ask Matt (Mahaffey) Anything…

A lot has transpired in the world of sElf since this blog has surfaced for air. An official release took place entitled, Super Fake Nice. The first commercial EP or LP since 2000, actually. 14 years post Gizmodgery, we can support sElf monetarily. Hell, there is official merchandise available, too. For awhile, there weren’t many sources toting sElf and Matt Mahaffey on the web — now, I’m not one of the only ones boasting of his musical ingenuity. In fact, it’s almost a challenge to keep up with all the sources now telling you to tell your friends of this wonderful sElf product.

A basic attempt to share a few sElf links:

Matt Mahaffey did an AMA on Reddit.

I could read this material for days:

[–]Tgg161 8 points 18 days ago

Was there a real marathon shirt and what happened to it?

[–]mattmahaffey[S] 16 points 18 days ago

Yes it was a Tracker Trucks Shirt and it had Tony Hawks autograph on it, to which he wrote “To Matt, Blaze.”

National TV over the past 10 years has stepped up their game musically. Jimmy Kimmel continues this new tradition as sElf make their national TV debut on his show:


Lucid Anne

Matt does “Runaway”, “Microchip Girl” and “Mother Nature’s Fault” acoustically care of Yahoo!

Alternative Press interviews Matt.



self’s waiting…

It’s 2000. Mahaffey is doing his prolific composing and unleashing of sweet pop simplicity laced with tales of G-I-R-L-S. Back then, I only dug the beat and didn’t really give a damn about the lyrics, initially. With time, its meaning crept in; then sank in and registered. Maybe even spoke deeply enough to compare his message to my life. But at 21 and still wanting to live, I couldn’t start to fathom a song about a girl wanting nothing but a nuptial. With me. But later, 13 years to be exact, the script has been flipped. This is no longer the same song I’d loop over and over again in the infancy of my 20s.

Third decade has arrived. I’ve begun to stretch into it, become acquainted with what it means and what it could bring. Matt’s ode to girls waiting for the man to step up now speaks volumes. Its message has now become parallel with my life.

Selfafornia, where “Waiting” originates from, follows up Breakfast With Girls, the heavily layered grandiose masterpiece. BWG proclaims texture. Has endless moments of experimentation with countless sounds, tweaks, beats, etc. “Waiting” isn’t as deep, texturally speaking. Voice, keys, and a beat care of Matt’s drums. But its message is profound: She’s waiting….

sElf :: Waiting


Self’s Subliminal Plastic Motives, In NYC…

Your favorite band unleashes a new record, it’s essential you add it to your collection. Let’s take it a step further: your go-to act, sElf, puts out a re-issue of their debut, Subliminal Plastic Motives, with its original, intended sound — on wax no less — and pledge to also play that record live in its entirety, your attendance is a non-negotiable. Matt upped the ante more when he decided to play the capital of the world: New York City.

January 10, 2014 at the Gramercy Theatre sElf not only will play Subliminal Plastic Motives but also unleash the LP on vinyl. According to Mahaffey’s Facebook, we’re in for a real treat:

peeping out the sElf – Subliminal Plastic Motives test pressing today. FYI, the album was mastered by Bob Ludwig close to 10 times originally for the compact disc. the final result being, to my ears, very harsh, tinny, & compressed. this was no fault of Bob’s, as he was under direct orders to make it sound like a smiley face rock EQ…..but i’ve always loathed the CD version. the vinyl, however, is cut from his VERY FIRST mastering, & it is phenomenal. i am hearing this record for the first time. you guys are in for a treat!

As the years press on, my show count seems to dwindle. But whatever, when they’re of this top-notch caliber — so early on in the year — does it matter if I’m barely dipping into double digits?


So much for Last FM stats…

You play it more, you inevitably dig it more than the rest, right? A year comes to a close and I look to statistical data to sway my best of list. These artists didn’t release any new material, right? I can’t get enough, no matter the year or decade their output was released. Why these acts are always at the forefront of topics around here…

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The potential to be a star…

A song in someone’s homage is flattery at its finest. As with most of my heresy on this blog, I can only present to you circumstantial evidence about this dedication. Prince, during the Purple Rain era, churned out “Baby I’m a Star”; the epitome of an 80s banger care of flash and bounce. One with lyrics like…

Hey, look me over, do you like what you see? Hey, I ain’t got no money, but, honey, I’m rich on personality…

sElf, an act co-spawned from Prince’s output, created “Potential”, a boast about some snooty, difficult-ass gals, and how they’re all about monetary flash; girls wrapped up in everything but a man’s reach, his potential to become a star. Modeled perhaps after Prince’s hard hitter, “Baby I’m a Star”.

Place these two songs in a Venn diagram showcasing where they stand lyrically and the similarities abound. Girls can’t always see it. Or they’re rockin’ their blinders and only looking for one or two things. Neither being potential. It’s there in most, not all possess as much as others. These maestros knew they had it. So they did what they knew how to do best:

sElf :: Potential


His Royal Badness…

My music collection and arsenal of artists could be substantially greater. For artists I dig, ones I really follow, have their whole catalog, know more about them than my siblings, I should back track and look into their influences. What was artist A spinning before they concocted their masterpiece. Ignorance, perhaps? Apathy? Regardless of my reasons, it hasn’t happened except with one artist: sElf. Matt proudly wears Prince on his sleeve. As recently as April, MM stated how he still yearns to work with the Purple One. Thanks to sElf’s output and Matt’s adoration for the little funkster, I followed suit.

Thankfully, I backtracked, listened, hit repeat, danced, of course in my kitchen, and like Matt, wanted to share the same room with the legend. Tonight, thanks to his West Coast club tour, I will.

sElf :: Let’s Pretend We’re Married


Mahaffey, a stage, and a TED talk…

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Matt Mahaffey, the suped up beat dropper, meets sweet pop mastermind, gave a talk. It wasn’t one I totally predicted, nor was it one where he made a proclamation of a completed sElf record. But shit, the man got me live in my swivel chair. He engaged me more than most of these talks — spare me your intellectual bullshit; this is Mahaffey.

His weapons of choice as he engaged the audience: drum set, omnichord, grand piano, and an electric guitar. And this quote:

I always wanted to work with Prince; because Prince can play guitar like Jimi Hendrix, can play piano like Thelonius Monk, and can squel like James Brown. But still in a Prince song; all musicians are thieves but the good ones make it untraceable.

This talk’s setlist:


Better Than Aliens

This Is Love

Upcoming Shows:


May 2021