- Posted on Mar 14th 2011 3:15PM by Joe Tacopino
How did the band start? I've read that the band met down in Florida, at a Hare Krishna community?
Well - Me and [drummer] Nimai, we are sisters - but we met [multi-instrumentalist] Michael [Collins] in high school. We were all into punk music so we were playing punk for a while.
We found ourselves back in Florida one summer and we were all kind of bored. We lived in this town with like 48 other people there. And so we started to jam. We moved out when we were in high school to this Hare Krishna community in Florida. It was cool. We still went to public school and stuff so I didn't really feel like a super-isolated situation or anything. We were pretty near Gainesville, which is a university town.
I guess for us it seemed pretty normal, but I could see someone else being like: "OK, everyone around has weird names and dresses in real colorful robes." Maybe to someone else we might be seen as weird, but it seemed pretty normal.
I'm surprised that you started playing punk rock; it's very different than what the band is now. How did that happen?
I don't know, I guess just being in high school and being stuck in a small town and having a rebellious attitude about everything – skating and stuff. We were listening to a lot of punk music. It's just kind of what we wanted to play. I didn't even really know that any other music sort of existed until I went off to art school in Boston.
How did your approach to music change after art school?
Honestly, I took a lot of film in school, and also sound art too. So it just taught me different ways of seeing and listening. And that music is this thing that can be extended into so many different things. So I really started listening to different textures, just around. Like walking to and from the subways.
I was studying a lot of film too, and I'm just really interested in the way films are structured. It's sort of this idea of sculpting a time and creating. We were watching super-abstract, early experimental films, which seemed also more sonic than visual. Just the way they were edited had this sonic quality to it.
I took a break from music for a really long time, while I was in school and I was doing a whole lot of listening and making silent films. So when I went back to making music there was this whole new way I was looking at it.
What is the 'Now Age'? How would you explain it?
To me, The Now Age is this word I made up really. I'm interested in how a lot of people are using this term 'new age' again. It seems like this term has resurfaced in talking about a lot of newer musicians using calming or relaxing music that's similar to stuff in the early '70s.
But I feel like ... I'm really wary of re-using terms because it's kind of derivative and we're in a different place no than we were in the '70s. So I feel like the music really needs to be developed to account for the new changes that are happening and put them in a newer context. Part of my (sort of) philosophy with music is that it just really puts you in the now.
The thing about new age music that bothers me is that it seems sort of escapist in a way. It's all about transcending your environment and getting away from the world you're in, creating some sort of sanctuary away from all of it. Or at least it has that connotation. But I feel like the most powerful music for me does the absolute opposite. It just puts you just hyper in the now and makes you so aware of your surroundings and the environment that you're in and how everything's interacting with it: The space and the sounds. Jut being aware of everything, that's really what I strive to reach whenever I'm making music.
I wanted to ask you about the idea of utopia. What is your feeling of utopia? Do you feel it's an attainable state -- as either a mental state or an actual psychical place?
Well, it's very similar to this idea of the now age, and this idea of an age that's ever present. I feel like 'now age' refers to a time, and a time that's like ever-present. You're never in the past or future you're just completely in the now. Which is almost something that you can attain but once you attain it you've kind of lost it because you're already in the next moment. You could never hold on to this moment. In that way it's totally attainable but unattainable at the same time – and I like that trade off.
The way that is with time I feel that utopia is with space. It's the idea of this nowhere. It sounds like a negative thing at first but really, I feel like when you divorce something from the idea of this container, this place, this maze or structure than all of the sudden it becomes kind of mystical thing and could be this space that takes us anywhere and you could, place within any sort of physical container including just your own body and so in that sense I feel like it's totally attainable but again I feel like once it's attained than you kind of have a name for it then it becomes a something or a someplace.
So, I'm pretty into it I am pretty into the idea of attaining it and not being able to attain it. That sort of juxtaposition.
You had a recent performance at the Issue Project Room in Brooklyn. It was a sort of ritual where you had the audience participate. What was the goal behind this?
This is sort of a three-part piece we're doing on utopia. I started getting really interested in exercise and this American ritual of going to gyms and kind of like losing yourself.
There's a few different intentions you can have [with exercising] it's like to lose something, something of your past or something of your present, the way you look, or the way you feel; or, it's like to become this new something, this new person.
So I'm interested in how that primal utopian instinct is so present in this mundane thing like going to the gym and sort of looking at the mystical connotations of that, like getting a new body and almost like consuming your old self, like burning of your old self.
I'm watching a lot of these old exercise videos and the vocabulary they're using in yoga class is kind of like super psychological like kind of psychedelic vocabulary like burning your demons and all this weird stuff that's embedded in it.
So I'm sort of looking at that and how that sort of parallels with different shamanic practices that I've been reading about that also deals with also this idea of losing yourself and gaining a new body and there's this shamanic practice like Skeletonization.
In a lot of native Americans tribes that's where you literally do all these activities to the point of physical exhaustion it's like the idea of losing, all your old flesh. By the time you reach this skeletalized state then you become a shaman. And the flesh that you put on after that is like your new body. So it's sort of like this idea of giving up your old body sort of like in exchange for a mystical body or something.
So I'm kind of like interested in parallels and create this exercise situation where people could, come into this room and work out. People tell me they are sore for days later. It's a bona fide work out. People were sweating and stuff. We were playing up this whole burning up your demons getting rid of your old body. We were trying to create this mystical gym-like situation.
You should make an exercise video.
We're making a video actually, of it. It's going to be released later this month. But we're putting out a VHS and it's gonna have all the trippy visuals from the exercise ritual. We write all the music. I also tried to make it typical exercise music but also have a trance-y element to it, ya know.
Are you excited for SXSW? How do you like the experience?
Yeah, I think we're totally overbooking ourselves. But that's what it's all about, right? I mean it's five days, you're gonna be down there, just do it.
I kind of see that as a weird experience performance. I see SXSW as an environment very conducive to utopia because it's just this thing that happens within this preexisting space. It's just like totally nuts, all these people coming from all these different places and there's just so much energy.
And one of your show is going to be at an occult bookstore?
Yeah, I have a friend that works there. Last year we put on this impromptu performance at this occult bookstore and we were like let's totally do it again this year and make it really big.
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