Posts Tagged ‘electronic’

Dave Sutton: Blackbird Blackbird

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010


We’ve gotten used to sweet beats dropping from the sky one morning and circulating the blogoshere with artwork, blurb, and a link to bandcamp (oh you should probably go to Blackbird Blackbird’s right now and get these two delightful and free EPs, unzip, then continue reading) and by noon we’re on our 10th spin. We thoroughly enjoy, mentally compartmentalize, and keep going, without really thinking much about the musician behind the magic. When a young, talented, and generous act like Blackbird Blackbird comes along and makes himself so accessible, it’s funny to realize, all you have to do is ask. This impromptu talk with Mikey S came about over email. Looks like it turned into an interview:

DS: What’s the origin of Blackbird Blackbird? Did you have any projects before this one?

BB: Blackbird Blackbird is my solo project. It originated in my bedroom, where I’d spend countless hours jamming out an endless amount of songs. As for past projects, I used to drum in a bay area punk/hardcore/thrash band called Murder Practice, and play guitar/sing in a math rock band called The Starlite Design. Blackbird Blackbird is my musical outlet for many intersecting influences. I enjoy listening to and connecting the psychological tropes of several genres and melting them together in a kind of crock-pot stew of goodness.

DS: San Francisco – a lovely city, a cultural epicenter. How long have you been there, and would you consider location an influence in your sound?

BB: I’ve lived in the Bay Area my whole life aside from Hawaii in the first couple years of my childhood. California has been such an inspirational place for writing music and learning about diverse culture. Location actually does play a large factor in my writing process. Enveloping myself in an atmosphere and absorbing the vibration/mood of a location is what I do when I write my songs. Also, I love layering organic sounds such as nature samples over digital synths and drums. Sometimes my songs are an experiment, the subject matter often being about the walls that separate what is real and unreal, but most of all they are about an experience in a particular place/situation or about an impactful moment in my life.

DS: Regarding sound, your music satisfies what seems to be a collective fix us fans/bloggers have for dreamy/mellow/sunny electronic music as of late. What drew you to this particular style (dare I say movement) and what do you think draws us to it?

BB: I think the reason people are so drawn to this type of dreamy, sunny, ethereal songcraft, is because it’s truthful, nostalgic and personal. The lyrics tend to form a direct connection with the artist and listener, almost until there is no distinction between the two. I love Delorean, Washed Out, and Toro Y Moi for opening the doors for this new flow of great summertime music coming out; these types of artists tend to put me in a relaxed or carefree mood throughout the day. I’m so happy to be part of a really great family of artists and a very supportive label: Arcade Sound Ltd. Teen Daze, Memoryhouse, Millionyoung, Coma Cinema, Coolrunnings, and Kiss Kiss Fantastic are continuing to develop into seriously amazing musicians, I can’t wait for future releases to happen!

DS: You were quick to utilize Tumblr, Twitter, and Bandcamp, sharing new songs/mixes for free, which now get reblogged/retweeted within minutes. How important has this direct connection with fans/bloggers/fellow musicians been in your growth?

BB: Twitter and Tumblr have enabled me to communicate instantly with people and expand my network of close friends and blog pals. Cecil from Gobble Gobble even came out to my first show in SF simply because we chatted on myspace! It has especially been great for exchanging remix stems (like I did with Teen Daze) and organizing remixes/collaborations with other musicians such as Twin Sister and Kiss Kiss Fantastic, not to forget Coma Cinema. Bandcamp has been a great tool for me (as well as so many other artists right now) to track sources of information and subsequently reach out to the bloggers who have posted about me. Although somewhat surreal/unreal at times, these social tools are a great way to maintain ties to people who support what I’m doing. Overall it is a useful means to develop as an artist.

DS: Your myspace mentions that you perform as a 3-piece and that you have a show coming up in July. Assuming you write these tracks alone, what’s the process like when translating them live? And plans to tour?

BB: The live show is really fun! As soon as I saw Baths in SF recently I got inspired to do a very simple setup: one Akai MPD24 midi controller, reverb/phaser pedal, and a microphone. Having friends come onstage and help me is awesome but I know in the future when I go on tour and other live members can’t, I’ll go solo. I want to continue to add to my live sound as it progresses; I play guitar, bass, and drums as well, so it would be fun to mix it up and do a solo jam with every instrument.

EP’s Happy High and Let’s Move On Together are available for download here. And look for a new 7″ on Double Denim Records this July.

Photo by Victoria Masters

Babe Rainbow

Friday, May 7th, 2010


CS: Tell us a little bit about yourself and the genesis of Babe Rainbow. How long have you been creating music?

CR: I’ve been playing music (poorly) since I was thirteen. Guitar mostly. Punk, noise, and believe it or not, folk. I’ve only been making electronic music since March ’09.

CS: Tell us about the scene in Vancouver. Do you think dub step is more of a “thing” in Canada than, say, the U.S.?

CR: To tell the truth, I’m not really a part of any dubstep scene. I’m friends with some guys that make dubstep in Vancouver but I’ve never been a part of that community. They have a very strong, supportive scene, though. Lots of shows all the time that all do really well. I’ve been more involved with the punk/noise community in Vancouver, which I would argue is one of the best in North America. As far as dubstep being a Canadian thing, I’ve been told that the Vancouver community is one of the more prominent in the global scene, but I can’t really speak to that.

CS: Some of your videos feature natural settings. How does the stark Canadian landscape impact your sound?

CR: I make music with themes like desolation, loneliness and anxiety in mind. Those themes are very prominent in the West Coast landscape, in both the city and nature. The videos were produced by the brilliant Salazar films.

CS: Your music can be pretty dark, yet you come off as a fun-loving jokester on your blog. Do you get into a moodier headspace when you’re creating music?

CR: I don’t get into a different headspace when I produce but I have a tone and feeling in mind. I generally freeform to start, get a loop going of some swirling layers and then just get sucked in, meditate on it and arrange it from there.

CS: What’s Music Waste? What can we expect this year from the festival?

CR: Music Waste is an annual four-day-long independent culture festival in Vancouver. I’ve been organizing it with a group of people for the last six years. There are over 100 local bands, three comedy shows, and five art exhibitions all taking place in Vancouver’s downtown eastside. We keep passes cheap and venues within walking distance to make it as easy as possible for people to experience local music.

CS: Tell us about Mental Beast.

CR: Mental Beast is twelve-episode comedy web series that I produced with my friend, actor and comedian Conor Holler. It’s about the staff of a nearly defunct radio station and their efforts to save it. It was written and acted by members of Vancouver’s alt-comedy community and the soundtrack features dozens of Vancouver bands who wrote original music for the series and the Christmas compilation, “The Eggnog Experience.” We wanted to merge a number of Vancouver’s creative communities in an interesting way. We had a big party for Christmas where about ten bands performed their songs and we screened the final episode. We even had a Santa Claus photo booth.

CS: What’s next for Babe Rainbow?

CR: I’m one week into my live setup. I’ve performed once and I’m feeling really good about it. Gonna play a lot over the summer and hopefully tour a bit. I’m working on lots of new tunes for a second EP. I also have a handful of remixes in the bag ready to come out. I’m really trying to collaborate with more rappers this year.

CS: You’re something of a Renaissance man, working in film, music, promotions, etc, and you do all of this in addition to your full time day job at an ad agency. How do you keep it all together? What motivates you to have so many projects going simultaneously?

CR: I also watch a ton of TV. I don’t know how I do it. I feel really busy at times, but it’s usually pretty laid back. I owe a lot to all the amazing people that I collaborate with. Vancouver’s creative communities are incredibly supportive. I do know why I do it: I love this city and its creative communities and want to make it a fun place to live. I’m also 27 and won’t have the time or energy to do this forever. Life is going to catch up with me eventually, and I want to feel like I spent my time well. If I have a kid and get bummed about not having extra time on my hands I don’t want it to be just because I can’t go out and party anymore.

Visit Babe Rainbow for music, video and more.