Buzzed Bands Podcast, Ep. 2 w/ Cold Blood Club

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Ten Questions with Dynasty Electric

Recently, the Ski Club sat down in the West Village with Jenny singer and cofounder of Dynasty Electric. The following is a (very) abbreviated version of the conversation.

Dynasty Electric is currently awesome and on a nationwide tour which features stops from coast to coast and a featured spot at Burning Man. When not out setting hearts afire in the desert, the group is one of the bright lights on the greater Brooklyn music scene. Look out for their upcoming record and enjoy our talk about group dynamics, space, and the irrepressible power of pop music .

Brooklyn Ski Club: We’re currently in the underground lair of the Ski Club. Having a good time so far?

Jenny: Having a great time!

BSC: One of the things that your group, Dynasty Electric, is becoming best known for is space travel. Can you tell us a bit about your collective passion for the solar system and how it’s reflected in your music?

J: Well, a couple years ago I got pneumonia, and I basically stayed at home and watched, like, blacksploitation soft core porn for like, several months, and a lot of that was Sun Ra’s “space is the place” and (laughs) um, that’s when I started getting interested in space travel. And one of my favorite quotes from sun ra was, when people would ask him do you like musicians that are trained or untrained, and his answer was like: it doesn’t matter to me if they are trained or untrained, what I want to know is, have they been to Pluto. That’s what he told major publications! Pluto, that’s what I care about…so I don’t want to speak for the rest of the band but I know that they are interested in the Solar System.

Everytime I go to the loft – the music place where we rehearse – they’re watching the sci fi channel specials on space and solar system formation/planet formation and the formation of the milky way…

…but all of the specials, all of it comes off as so authorative, based on all these calculations…but it’s all theoretical, and in that vein, we can all make any idea we want about how the universe started.

BSC: What’s the Dynasty Electric prevailing theory about the universe’s creation.

J: It was a vibration! A sound vibration. One that vibrated at certain frequency that started everything going. And I think that there’s a scientific theory that backs that up.

BSC: Sure, string theory. It’s very similar.

J: Yeah, so vibrations…for sure, that’s how it started.

BSC: In keeping with this theme, can you give us some background to the press photo of the group on Mars?

J: Well, I’d like to say that we actually have a new bass player since that photo – that was Valerie (recently departed bassist for the group) – we have (a new bass player) he’s come in and he’s doing our tour with us. So I’m sure we’ll go to the moon or something and take a photo with him, because we’ll need to have photos on the surface of the moon with the sun behind us. But we haven’t had time to go there yet because there’s so many other things going on.

BSC: Isn’t the moon a bit of a regression?

J: No no no no! The moon is a great place for photographs. Like, I don’t want to live there, I just want to take photos there.

BSC: Before lightspeed travel and Theremins (you guys are big on Theramins and stand-alone saxophones), what was the origin of the group? How long have you been toiling away ? I can see from your bio materials that it all began as a duo. So how long has the large scale lineup been intact?

J: We’ve only been doing…Dynasty Electric has basically had a bunch of incarnations. We started off as an experimental jazz trio. There were no vocals. It was just insane, improvised saxophone with punk rock bass lines and drums – I played bass with a bow.

And we traveled all over the country doing that and then we started adding vocals and worked as a duo and started programming the drum beats. And then we were kind of taking that all over the place – went to Japan, Taiwan, Canada and all over the US again. And then there was a period of time when we had 6 people in the band and in this short period of time we recorded some material…then it was 3 again…

But the current lineup with the rhythm section and some programming has been going on since (late 2007), for six months or so.

BSC: So this whole chronology takes place over the course of?

J: 5 years…ish.

BSC: As the band grew and your sound expanded, how did that come to affect the approach to your work?

J: It’s true that having it be a duo, we really experimented…all of that we have taken with us to this next incarnation. But the difference being that there’s just a real power and energy to a live rhythm section; of a good drummer and bassist just locking in and really powering something. Originally, well, I was friends with the guys from TV on the Radio years ago and originally they were just doing a programming thing too and it was just the there of them, and you know, the songs were really good…

But once they got their rhythm section, for some reason, people just (started to) relate, they really related to the live songs. It just gives it some power that you can’t have with programming alone.

BSC: When you’re actually working on compositions, do you think differently now, with the group? No offense, but you’re talking about experimental jazz and basses with bows and you play Pop Music now.

J: Yeah, well, first of all, Seth (the guitar player/co-founder/co-songwriter) came from an experimental (background). He was playing with Anthony Braxton…and I think he started to realize that he really wanted to talk to a LOT of people. He really wanted to communicate to a lot of people and you don’t do that with experimental jazz. You know? Even if you are the top of the top. The amount of people that you can actually send a message to (are limited).

I don’t know! Music, pop music, is what’s POPULAR. It’s where it’s at. And I think there’s a lot that you can do with that. And it’s actually a lot harder to write a good pop song that makes people think. It sounds so simple. But to put all of those elements together , musically, and in a way that really hits someone…

So, I love pop music.

BSC: Well…the Beatles…

J: The Beatles! And it was totally the era that they were in, but they dialed into something. Something metaphysical. And they were just tuned in. And everyone responded.

I was watching a documentary (on the Beatles) and to see everyone’s reactions to their concerts… Holy Shit!

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