Wednesday, July 29, 2009, 08:35 PM ( 37548 views ) - Interviews - Posted by dagmarsieglindeI recently talked with Strify, vocalist and Kiro, bassist of Cinema Bizarre before their opening show for the Fame Tour with Lady Gaga. They were in Seattle for the first time and don't hate these guys because they're beautiful - instead love them for their dramatic music and striking stage presence. I haven't seen a band quite like them and I really enjoyed how they bring so many elements along with their great songs - they've got a cool vibe and they are really gripping to watch. Their first US album, BANG!, is set for an August 25th release.
Dagmar: You met in Berlin?
Strify: Not in Berlin, in Koblenz. It was a convention on manga/anime and Japanese culture.
D: So youíre really interested in Japanese art?
Kiro: The style, the music was why we were there. We were all people who came there from Europe to this convention and share interests.
Strify: Basically I was always interested in androgyny, people like David Bowie, Adam Ant and Grace Jones, for example. I found out about Visual Kei, a Japanese youth culture Ė an underground youth culture Ė which found its origin in the 80s, and because there wasnít any hard rock in Japan at the time, there was one band called X Japan and they really started to dress up. Their look was very MŲtley CrŁe inspired. I found out about it and really loved the look. It broadened my style, my development of style. Itís pretty androgynous.
Kiro & Strify @ the Showbox, 2009
photo by Dagmar
D: Are you interested in horror movies?
Strify: I am not but Kiro really is.
Kiro: I love horror movies. Iím a fan of Twilight Ė I really loved the movie.
Strify: When it comes to movies Iím a fan of Tim Burton. I love the worlds he creates. I like the fact that heís always working together with the same team Ė never change a winning team. I am looking forward to his Alice in Wonderland. Iím also a big fan of The Rocky Horror Picture Show Ė thatís one of my favorite movies. I also love A Clockwork Orange. Movies that show a completely different world Ė and thatís what we want also in the band. Thatís why we called ourselves Cinema Bizarre Ė we want to create a world, a universe.
D: I think youíve done a great job of that.
Strify: Weíre like the complete opposite of the garage band. A lot of bands are like, we donít want to have an image, which is their image Ė not to have an image. We want to have a whole package of music, look and everything.
D: Whatís it like living in Berlin? Did any of you grow up there?
Strify: We moved to Berlin two years ago. We come from different cities. I come from the south of Germany and weíve got people coming from the north of Germany. We decided to get together in Berlin. Berlin really has got a cool vibe. Thereís a lot of musicians and the area we live in has a lot of actors. In Berlin, when there are people doing something which they are famous for, people arenít really interested. Itís not like when you come to LA and there are paparazzi everywhere. I really love Berlin. You could describe it as glamorous and trashy. And thatís what I like because I would also describe our band as glamorous and trashy.
Strify onstage @ the Showbox, 2009
photo by Dagmar
D: Do you like making your videos?
Strify: Yes, for sure. I would love to shoot even more videos.
D: I saw a video on YouTube of you doing a video shoot and you had a giant bird. Was it heavy?
Strify: It was. But it was such a beautiful animal. Iíve never seen a hawk so close. It had beautiful feathers and those eyes were so impressive. Itís such a proud animal. I wasnít afraid of the animal but I had a lot of respect [for the animal]. It was called Friday.
D: How did you two get involved in music?
Strify: Music has always been a passion. When you have a passion for something so strong you want to get involved in it. I tried choirs but it never worked for me. I really got started when I met the other guys [in Cinema Bizarre].
D: You, did you start learning bass as a teenager?
Kiro: It was, I think five years ago. A good friend [taught me] Ė she plays bass in a band. I come from a small village in Germany and there were not many musicians I could identify with. She showed me a bit and then I went to a professional teacher.
Kiro onstage @ the Showbox, 2009
photo by Dagmar
D: You mentioned David Bowie, what other bands do you like, for example from the 80s?
Strify: Dead or alive. I love Kim Wilde. I really like the voice of Kim Wilde. Grace Jones. I am also a big Madonna fan. Iím also a big fan of Adam Ant and David Bowie, but thatís before the 80s.
D: I noticed Depeche Mode let you sample them (Everything Counts in
Escape to the Stars).
Strify: Musically they were a big influence. My father was always listening to Depeche Mode when I was little. When youíre small you usually hate your parentsí music. Then thereís the day you find out that itís good stuff your father listens to. It was Depeche Mode, David Bowie and Queen . . . electronic/Depeche Mode vibe was a big influence on our music.
D: Who came up with the name Cinema Bizarre?
Strify: I found the word Bizarre. People look at us and say, "Youíre so bizarre, why are you so strange, what is up with you guys?" We wanted to give bizarre a positive background. The Rocky Horror Picture Show is also bizarre Ė positively bizarre. Itís the same for us. But just Bizarre wasnít a good band name. We found out about a new movie category called Bizarre Cinema, which features really strange movies from the 70s. It was quite fitting.
Kiro: It was perfect.
D: How did you get on the tour with Lady Gaga?
Strify: We met in Berlin. She was the opening act for Pussycat Dolls. We wanted to meet her. I have followed her career from the very beginning. She really liked us. We went backstage after her show and I think the first thing she said to us was, "You look like all my ex boyfriends, youíre so cute." It was so great. It was such a nice compliment. We met her crew and her dancers. Two days later she called and asked if we wanted to open the show.
Kiro: We couldnít believe it at first.
D: Youíve traveled all over Europe now?
Strify: France, Russia, Scandinavia, Italy . . . Iím always happy to come back to Paris because itís one of my favorite cities.
Kiro: I like Moscow. I like Russia so much. Moscow is like Berlin only bigger. Saint Petersburg also is a very beautiful city.
Strify: [Saint Petersburg] is impressive. They have so many big buildings. Itís the same kind of architecture you can find in Berlin and Moscow. Stalin-inspired architecture.
See more photos of Cinema Bizarre's show here.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009, 07:04 PM ( 7635 views ) - Interviews - Posted by dagmarsieglindeI interviewed Jeremy Haines and Sammy Rubin of Project Jenny, Project Jan before their Seattle show in March. I am ashamed to admit that I actually misplaced the interview but the coincidence of losing the interview and the fact that one of my favorite songs of theirs, Negative, concerns lost negatives is not lost on me. The loss of the interview really upset me and discovering it on my computer a couple weeks ago was such a relief. Anyway, enough about me. PJPJ comes from Brooklyn, New York and their songs combine all sorts of sounds - they are fearless in incorporating whatever they want in their music. I love that. Their new EP, the Colors, is out now and you should get it. Really.
Q: I love the video for Negative Ė where did you find the footage of the girl dancing & the negatives?
Sammy Rubin: The girl dancing was just easy Ė I just found some footage. The negatives are the interesting part because that was how the whole song started. We had to write a whole bunch of songs in a really short time because somebody asked us to play a party and we didnít even have any songs. We were writing, working and drinking. Iím working on the music for it and Jeremy canít figure out what this song is going to be about. He goes, Iím gonna take a walk and get some beer. On the way back [he has] plastic negatives in a sleeve. I was working on my computer and he just stuck it on the screen. He was just like, thatís what Iím writing a song about. We ended up scanning them and putting them into the video. Those are the actual negatives we found. Somebody lost those negatives.
[The original of the video is no longer on the site but you can see it in the background of the live version above.]
Q: Do you like directing and producing videos?
S.R.: I donít really consider myself doing video at all. I want to stop. I want somebody else to do the videos for us. I want to just work on the music.
Q: The video for Zoobar is cool too.
S.R.: Which one?
Q: The one with the toys.
S.R.: I didnít make that one, thatís Chris Herbeck.
Q: You have a different video for it?
S.R.: We use the one live that we made originally for it, which is actually worse. Do you remember Meet the Feebles? It was Peter Jacksonís first thing Ė they looked like Muppets but they were really warped. I used that. Itís also distasteful and quirky in its own way.
Sammy Rubin - photo by Dagmar
Q: Do you have any musical guilty pleasures?
S.R.: I donít feel guilty [about music]. I like Billy Joel. There was one the other day I was thinking of and I wouldnít tell anyone about it. Iím trying to think of it so I can tell you right now. It was something really, really bad.
Q: I like Aqua. The whole album (Aquarium) is great.
S.R.: Oh yeah. We came into today and there was a station just playing techno. Did Aqua play Barbie Girl?
S.R.: We drove into today and they were playing [this techno music] and Jeremy was like, are we in Russia? It was fun to listen to, I mean, we didnít change the station.
Q: Is this your first band, or have you always played music?
S.R.: Iíve always played music. When I was in music school I had a band there. Jeremy was in a band in college. He was the lead singer. We became friends and didnít form a band - it didnít even occur to us for a while. All the sudden we were like, letís start making music.
Q: What instruments did you learn as a child?
S.R.: I started with piano and learned saxophone and then moved to bass guitar. I was a bass player for a long time before I did this. Iím into bass a lot. Itís both rhythmic and melodic. I think that ends up coming out in our music. Most of our stuff is bass driven.
Q: You studied music theory?
S.R.: Theory, composition . . . it was at University of Rochester.
Q: Do you like classical music?
S.R.: I got into Chopin for a while and Beethoven.
[Jeremy Haines joins us]
S.R.: We were talking about classical music.
Jeremy Haines: You know, the girl before asked me that too. She was like, it sounds like you guys have classical references in your music. I said that Sammy used to play jazz, and thatís why.
Q: I havenít seen the movie yet, but you two did a cameo in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist?
J.H.: I play this character named Randy, who has a band called Are You Randy? - which is us. Weíre integral to the plot development. Theyíre trying to go see their favorite band, Whereís Fluffy? They think thatís it going to happen at this one place, and everyone goes, and then we show up. Everyone gets sad and leaves.
S.R.: Yeah, they all walk out. I liked that.
J.H.: Itís fun to be the villains. My character comes and goes throughout the course of the movie. Heís the guy that keeps coming back. It made our fan base a lot younger Ė a ton of teenagers saw it. A small percentage of them were interested enough in our characters and music to look us up. Now weíve got a lot of fifteen-year-old friends on Myspace.
Jeremy Haines - photo by Dagmar
Q: What were your initial impressions of each other?
S.R.: I thought he was an idiot.
J.H.: I thought he was a jerk. The first time I remember meeting him heíd just crashed his car after a long drive from Long Island. I thought he was crazy. He was like, I just crashed my car, I need a drink.
S.R.: I had to get it towed. I was so frazzled by it I needed whiskey.
J.H.: He was friends with my best friends from high school so they put in a good word for him.
S.R.: Otherwise he would have thought I was a big jerk.
Q: Jeremy, you studied art, do you do all the posters and artwork for the band?
J.H.: I do all the drawings. In the videos Sammy puts them altogether Ė heís the editor/director. Thatís what I went to college for. I moved to New York to pursue it.
One of Jeremy Haines' posters - brilliant.
Q: Do you ever read reviews of your live shows?
Q: Does it make you self-conscious?
J.H.: You think youíre above it all, youíre like, whatever . . . but then you read something sometimes and youíre like, that hurts.
S.R.: Even if itís filled with misspellings and a readership of two, it still stings.
J.H.: Itís like a critique when youíre in school, sometimes you get bombed.
Q: Iíd want to comment back.
J.H.: Thatís the other thing. With critiquing you can defend yourself.
Q: I read some interview, I think in Orlando, where you wanted some Disney characters to show up. Whoíd you like to turn up?
S.R.: Depends where. The Disney characters kind of suck.
J.H.: No they donít, what about all those princesses? Tinker Bell is kind of lame, but if she was really here, sprinkling fairy dust on everyone so that everyone could fly Ė this night would be crazy. Everyone boozing and flying around.
S.R.: That would be awesome.
J.H.: I like the effect Tinker Bell that would have on everyone.
Tinker Bell by Disney
Q: Do you remember your first show as Project Jenny, Project Jan?
J.H.: Totally. We have it on video.
S.R.: We never put it up.
J.H.: Because it sucks.
S.R.: Itís not horrible.
J.H.: But itís not that good.
S.R.: If I remember right, it looks like a high school talent show.
J.H.: Iíve got long hair.
S.R.: And Iím sitting down. I think we only had three songs. It was a variety show.
J.H.: It was a fun show Ė we had a great time. Our friends were all there and we got a show directly from it.
Q: What kind of clothing style or fashion would you like to see come back?
S.R.: Maybe hats. How about the earring that connects to your nose?
J.H.: That was sweet.
You can see more photos I took of their show here.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009, 05:24 PM ( 603 views ) - Show Previews - Posted by dagmarsieglindeThe Prodigy will be in Seattle this weekend - Saturday, May 30th at the WaMu Theater. I have loved this band ever since I saw the video for Firestarter. Enjoy.
Monday, May 25, 2009, 02:58 AM ( 1132 views ) - Interviews - Posted by dagmarsieglindeThe Crystal Method returned this year with their fourth studio album, Divided by Night, a smashing collection of songs featuring such diverse artists from Matisyahu to Peter Cook. I got the wonderful chance to talk with the Crystal Methodís Ken Jordan, who along with Scott Kirkland, has created significant electronic music thatís maintained its cool factor. The band is scheduled to appear at the WaMu Theater in Seattle on May 30th and I cannot wait for the experience.
Q: What are some of the changes for the new tour?
Ken Jordan: There are a lot of different technical things. On our tour weíre running two synced up MacBook Pros. Weíve got our brand new Axiom controllers and all the lights are new stuff. This company High End Systems out of Austin is letting us use brand new lights that are not even available to anyone else yet. Light and sound is all pretty new.
Q: Emily Haines is on the new album - how did you meet up with her?
K.J.: We knew of Metric but it wasnít until we saw this video on youtube, where she was singing with someone playing acoustic guitar. Her voice was very prominent and we just really fell in love with her voice and wanted to try to get her on the record.
Q: You also have Justin Warfield and his wife, Stefanie King Warfield on the album?
K.J.: He delivered a great vocal on Kling to the Wreckage. We also had this background vocal part and we asked who it was. He said it was his wife so we got her to do another song, which was Black Rainbows.
Q: They both have cool voices. Are there other people youíd like to collaborate with?
K.J.: Yeah, weíre going to keep finding new people. I donít want to spoil it by not having it come true.
Q: What about somebodyís voice that you really loved, like when you were growing up?
K.J.: Stevie Wonder stuff from the 70s. Bill Withers. We actually did try to reach out to him [Withers] because I heard heís still singing really well . . .
Q: Are there any music genres or styles that youíre interested in trying that you havenít tried yet?
K.J.: We find out what works best for us is trying something thatís totally different. Weíre willing to try anything. The things that donít work out donít show up on the record but weíre always trying different things.
Scott Kirkland and Ken Jordan of the Crystal Method - photo courtesy of thecrystalmethod.com.
Q: Youíve contributed a lot to movies and soundtracks. Are there directors that interest you?
K.J.: Weíve done some scoring. We scored a film called London and I scored a TV movie once Ė Columbo Likes the Nightlife. We really do like scoring to picture. Thereís a lot of directors we do like so hopefully we will get to work with them.
Q: Are you still working on the Doorsí music?
K.J.: We did the one remix a while back for Roadhouse Blues. This year weíre going to do another remix for Break on Through.
Q: When were a little kid did you learn to play piano or did you pick it up later?
K.J.: Much later. I didnít even take piano lessons until I started going to college. I never wanted to be in a band or anything. I actually started making music because I was running the college radio station and bands that liked my taste in music asked me to come into the studio with them. Thatís when I decided I wanted to be a producer/engineer. The little piano that I had learned helped me quite a bit. When I started working with Scott it became more of a band Ė not so much being a producer or an engineer.
Q: Did you two meet initially in college?
K.J.: We met in Las Vegas Ė we both grew up in Las Vegas. We had both already started working on some music with other people, Scott more by himself. I was working with a singer. We had the same part-time job and he came in with a drum machine one day and we started talking. We put all of our gear together and eventually the Crystal Method was born.
Q: Was Las Vegas an interesting place to grow up?
K.J.: Itís an interesting because when youíre a kid you donít realize that other places donít have slot machines and 7-Elevens. Neither one of our parents worked in the casino industry so it was a little more normal for us.
Q: Are there some types of music you disagree on?
K.J.: Scott likes a lot of the 80s hair metal bands and I donít like any of them.
Q: Where did you get the title of the new CD from?
K.J.: Divided by Night is kind of a metaphor for our lives. We lead pretty hardworking normal lives during the day but then when weíre going out in the clubs and djing or playing concerts itís just radically different. The phrase Divided by Night represents that division.
Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
K.J.: I play a lot of ice hockey.
Q: Thatís brutal.
K.J.: No, itís not.
Q: How did you start doing that?
K.J.: I didnít learn until really late in life. I didnít play until I moved to L.A., back when Wayne Gretzky was on the teams. I got really interested. A lot of friends of mine from Vegas had a team and were in L.A., so I joined the team.
Q: You need to have strong ankles for that.
K.J.: Well the boots keep your ankle together pretty good.
Q: How have you and Scott managed to stay friends, for like 10 years?
K.J.: Itís more like 20 years. Besides our immediate family members itís the longest relationships weíve been in. You learn to get along. You have to like each other first or itís probably not going to work anyway.
Q: Whatís the songs of yours youíre most proud of?
K.J.: The last song [on Divided by Night], itís called Falling Hard and I think itís the most beautiful song weíve ever done.
Q: If you could have the power of a robot what would it be?
K.J.: Thatís a good one because we donít really know what robots do right now.
Q: There are limitations.
K.J.: I would like the power not to be so emotional sometimes.
Thursday, May 21, 2009, 03:50 PM ( 663 views ) - Show Previews - Posted by dagmarsieglindeChester French is at the Crocodile tonight. I am still waiting for this band to headline - why, you ask? Because they are purely awesome.
I don't know who took this photo and no they don't always go around as clowns. I just love this photo - it's on their blog. If anyone can find a version where there is no text on it I would be much obliged.
Hah! And see how resourceful Amelia is from backbeatseattle:
I looked everywhere for this.
Here's the video for She Loves Everybody.
I've also got to apologize because it probably looks like I have dropped off the face of the internet lately. Not true! I am still here and I have been working hard on my website I have with other Seattle writers and photographers. It's been some work getting it off the ground and we're still setting it up. They're all creative people who write well, are interesting and take massively great pictures. I am lucky. Here's the site: backbeatseattle.com.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009, 01:41 AM ( 551 views ) - Posted by dagmarsieglindeI am so obsessed with this song, with every song I hear from Future of the Left. I think they're phenomenal. Really phenomenal. They're from Wales and they'll be in Seattle for the Capitol Hill Block Party. Excellent.
Here's the video for the Hope That House Built.
Saturday, May 2, 2009, 07:20 PM ( 816 views ) - Show Previews - Posted by dagmarsieglindeIt's not everyday a girl marries a bear:
Wednesday, April 22, 2009, 09:22 PM ( 273 views ) - Photos - Posted by dagmarsieglindeBrent Amaker and the Rodeo hit the High Dive this Saturday, April 25th. I saw them last when they played Ear Candy's Birthday party, which included whiskey baptisms and panty-tossing. Tix are only $10 and the show also features the Redwood Plan, whom I have not seen yet but have heard wonderful things about.
You know you want to see more:
Page 1, the Rodeo
Page 2, the Rodeo
Plus here's their new video for When Love Gets to a Man
When Love Gets To A Man from Black Daisy on Vimeo.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009, 02:31 AM ( 704 views ) - Photos - Posted by dagmarsieglindeLong live Travis!
More photos very soon - with some posted already here.
Saturday, April 4, 2009, 07:43 PM ( 753 views ) - Photos - Posted by dagmarsieglindeThere are few certain things in this world but one is that OK Go will always put on a fantastic show. I've seen them in venues of vastly different sizes and they're always just on. Plus they are one of the best bands to photograph, no debate there. They did my favorite song of theirs, Invincible last and though I waited happily for it, the entire show was energetic and fabulous.
Complete gallery of OK Go @ Chop Suey: