Monday, December 19, 2011

EIC'S10Q'S w/ La Big Vic

"..rebirth from a tiny alienistic egg into something completely/conceptually beautiful.."

(Photo credit: Weird Magic)

La Big Vic
Psychotomimetic Venerable Dream

La Big Vic Bio:
Actually from Brooklyn’s La Big Vic. LBV’s lead guitarist, Toshio Masuda, performed in a major label J-Pop boy band in his youth in Japan. He produced hip hop songs, commercials, and soundtracks before coming to America to become an inspirational R&B musician. Peter Pearson, the group’s synthesist, is an apprentice to Pink Floyd’s live sound producer Jeff Blenkinsopp at Expert Audio Repairs & Servicing (EARS) Inc. One of Jeff’s last interns was Gavin Russom. La Big Vic’s lead singer and violinist is Emilie Friedland, founder of Visitation Rites. She inspired us to start chatting with people about music. La Big Vic is a kosmische, trip-hop, genre buster. Actually is hook rich, atmospheric, and full of lurking positivity.

Hello, how are you?
Pretty tired.

That's a shame, may I ask why?
Well, I am in grad school for journalism right now and I also run two music blogs-- Altered Zones and Visitation Rites. If you add recording and playing shows to the mix, it's quite a full plate. I think Toshio and Peter are pretty exhausted as well. Toshio does production work for J-Pop labels in Japan, and Peter is working as a synthesizer repairman at this place called Expert Audio Repairs and Service in Manhattan. Both of them work other day jobs on top of that, and have various musical side projects as well.

What are you listening to these days?

As a band, I'd say that in addition to all the usual Psych and Kosmische and Kraut and Prog reference points, we've been on a heavy, early aughts electronic music binge. Lots of Air, Daft Punk, Gorillaz, Massive Attack, UNKLE, Aphex Twin. Portishead. Cibo Matto too. That warm, resonant, crystalline production sound was painfully out of fashion for a while in indie music, but I'm glad that it seems to be making comeback these days. There's something much more earnest and brave and hopeful and naive about putting yourself out there in high resolution. On a technological level, there is all these free or low-cost digital tools available now for making music that sounds clear and direct. It's sort of a lie to say that you "were so poor that you had to record on a shitty four-track" these days; should you choose to do so, you should be doing so for because that production sound is part of the message your music is trying to get across. James Ferraro's new record, "Far Side Virtual", takes this argument to an extreme. Last time he played in New York, at the Neon Marshmallow fest, he had a laptop on stage beside him. He didn't even use it; it was just a kind of tongue-in-cheek "endorsement" of the idea of making music on a computer.

What's the story with the band name?

Well, the story we always tell is that we named it after a mutual friend named Victor, who happens to be very tall. The "La" was sort of a jokey reference to the '80s Krautrock band La Dusseldorf, which is one of our faves. At this point, I just like the fact that it has three syllables.

How did the idea for this project come up/start?

Toshio and I met when he was playing keys in another Brooklyn band called Behavior, and I was sort of guesting in it as a violinist. At a certain point I found out that my services were no longer really in demand there, so Toshio and I started jamming on the side-- just live keys and violin for the most part. This was in Fall of 2009. In early 2010, Peter came on board as our keyboard player, and Toshio switched began playing guitar and taking on more of a producer's role. Peter is Toshio's upstairs neighbor, and we do all jamming and recording in this massive industrial loft building where they live. It's one of the only artist buildings in a heavily Hasidic section of Williamsburg. Our sound sort of came together as a product of our instruments (synths, guitar, and violin) and shared musical obsessions. I wouldn't say that we started out with a concrete mission statement or anything.

Whom introduced you to Underwater Peoples?
Probably Matt Mondanile of Ducktails/Real Estate. He's an old college bud of mine who happens to be from North Jersey, where most of the UP's are from. I actually did a show on Newtown Radio with Ari Stern, one of the four founders, before La Big Vic signed on for a record. It was called "Underwater Visitations," and you can listen to the archives on the Underwater Peoples Website.. At the end of the day, the NYC scene is so small that we probably would have linked up anyway; it seems that like-minded people always do.

Has the idea of working with any other artists from Underwater Peoples come up?

We've jammed on stage with members of the greater UP family. Julian Lynch played Clarinet on our track "Chinese Wedding" once or twice, and Evan Brody-- one of the label founders and the frontman of Family Portrait/Wet Dream has thrown down on guitar for us. I also laid down some from violin and vocals on the first Family Portrait LP. But no, we haven't really thought of doing anything more extensive as of yet.

EIC: I'm in love with the latest Julian album, definitely one of this year's best! I would love to hear you guys put out an album together!!!;)

If you could score any movie real or fake, which would you choose and why?
I don't know. I'd say a year ago, when we were tracking the first album, it would have been a feature-length advertisement for Euro Disney, or a soundtrack for an airline's in-flight entertainment system. Now that we're working on the new album, which is much darker and more dystopian, I would say some sci-fi noir movie with lots of crazy urban architecture in it, like Alex Proyas' Dark City, or a Batman cartoon, or even a Little Nemo type tale. I'm very interested in Gothic skyscrapers of the 1920s and how they come off as cathedrals to the church of capitalism. There's something very rich in the contrast between that celebration of infinite prosperity and this dark underbelly of corruption that often accompanies representations of it in the popular imaginary, like some bad guy lurking around the corner or down the next manhole.

Speaking of manholes, you're stuck underground for the rest of your life..

You can only keep/listen to ONE album ..which album would it be?
Personally, maybe a box set of every Les Rallizes Dénudés live recording ever captured. But that's sort of my least favorite kind of question.

Are you living your dream?
To the extent that I love doing about 90 percent of the things I have to attend to on any given day, and couldn't bear to part with any one of the hats I wear, yes, I guess I am. That doesn't mean that surviving in one of the most expensive cities in the world while living that dream, and trying to make time for the people you love, isn't pretty challenging sometimes. I'm still in my twenties though, so I guess I haven't hit the age when those difficulties become disqualifying ones. So far so good.

Thanx Emilie!

La Big Vic are currently working on a companion "Dub" remix EP ("Dub The World 12") which should see the light of day around February 2012..

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