1) according to the bio, braindance started back in 1992 out merely as a project. what was your musical background before you started braindance?
i studied classical guitar with the brilliant yasha kaufman at the american institute of guitar in nyc when i was a wee lad, and then at the new england conservatory in boston for an unbelievably miserable year that, in part, compelled me to all cut off all affilations with music completely for three years. when i was ready to return, i knew what it was that i was seeking, and thankfully met vora.
2) braindance is really an interesting name for a band, allowing a lot of different interpretations and metaphors. as you also studied psychology choosing a name such as this seemed to be an obvious choice, right? what else do you combine with the image of a dancing brain? fantasy, freedom of thought, manipulation?
vora actually came up with the name after consuming three and a half gallons of vegetable borsht. fantasy, freedom of thought, regurgitation...
3) right from the start braindance were an independent act free from the boundaries of the corrupt music-biz. was that a conscious decision due to bad experiences you had with the biz or the artistic freedom that was guaranteed by not sticking to the biz-rules? did you ever had offers you rejected, offers also from europe?
certainly any artist desires greater exposure, and i would be lying if i told you i didn't want large quantities of people to experience our music, and subsequently shower us with pastry from the farthest reaches of the universe. the response from the underground fans, press, radio, and the web has always been unbelievable, but the industry meaning record labels for the most part, has ignored braindance. over the years, we've had limited dealings with limited companies with limited integrity and limited dealings with limited companies with limited funds, but up until now, nothing substantial has come our way. (note: as of this week, braindance has just signed a distribution deal with musea for the license of redemption in france) so yes, from the start, we were an independent act free from the boundaries of the corrput music-biz, but not by choice. we simply felt we owed to ourselves to become recording artists i don't believe in granting people the right to decide when my career starts. insofar as having been passed over is concerned, my subjective reasonings are as follows in other words, there are two plausable reasons why i believe labels have not responded to braindance, no matter how many people support the project:
one what we do frightens labels and frightens persons who are responsible for financial return within those labels. music is a business, and independent labels as well as majors have risk to contend with. in order for a major to dump a heap of cash on you, they've got to be sure that your music has succeeded in other realms their competitor must have had one of you, and have done rather well with them. if you're the goober in a&r who signed a maverick artist who didn't do well at the finish line, then you're the goober who's looking for a job at the end of the week. independent labels, for the most part, cater to one form of music, or one specific genre or sub-genre. because what we do crosses a few different sub-genres, there is no 'niche' for us, even in the independent world, which prides itself on promoting new, exciting, underground music. we're too heavy for goth labels, we're too goth for progressive labels, we're not heavy enough for doom metal labels, we're too industrial for metal labels..... when we began braindance, i had no concept of what these terms meant, and in many ways, i still don't. it wasn't until our music was reviewed regularly that these terms came into play.
Two we suck.
4) it's obvious that being an independent artist gives you a lot of freedom and advantages from the artistical point of view, but on the other hand your popularity seems to be limited without the financial and distributional backing of a big(ger) company. are you really satisfied with the status of the band, even though as good as the reviews and the reputation of braindance are? i guess it's still a shame that braindance unfortunately are hardly known over here in europe. how known are braindance in the us?
in the states, our faces grace the covers of gardening magazines, subway cars, and disposable souvenir mugs from large fast food chain restaurants, but we could always use more exposure...
5) as you're always quoting in the interviews documented on your website, the musical influences of braindance are numerous. therefore i wonder if you see any musical limits and borders braindance aren't ever willing to cross?
i don't think you'll see braindance incorporating elements of rap anytime soon, but you never know perhaps one day we'll be all up in that motherfucker, yo.
6) to my mind, the fascinating thing about braindance is the uniquity of the band's sound, so that recognition and rememberance is guaranteed even after one listening to the band. as you seem to be really familiar with the underground-scene i wonder if you've ever heard of an australian band called vaudeville (later vauxdvihl), the only band where i can see musical comparisons to? how did it come that so few bands are able to reach an unique sound? what is the secret behind braindance and your unique sound?
Thanks, although i've been trying to get that celine dion hook out of my head for quite some time now, and i'm not sure that recognition and remembrance is a good thing. it's been awhile since i've had the financial opportunity to regularly sample over underground artists, however, i own the vauxdvihl album to dimension logic, and like it. with regards to braindance comparisons, i've heard everything from paradise lost to samael to rammstein to tiamat to depeche mode to fear factory to cradle of filth to queensryche to type o negative to the kovenant to kmfdm. Personally, i think it's more comparable to n'sync meets cradle of filth.
I think the reason that so few bands are able to reach a unique sound is that it's not necessarily championed. The music business generally reflects fashion and attitude, and a unique voice is not necessarily heralded. when I first began looking for a project, distinctiveness was a high priority, and over time, paying attention to what the key elements to our sound that separated us became important. But the real secret comes from a tangy dippin' sauce prepared by gnomes in remote underground caverns.
7) what were the reasons that redemption was delayed for such a long time? i remember having received a tape with excerpts from the album almost over a year ago? how much dedication and faith in your own abilities is recquired to keep running a band for such a long time between two albums?
as you may already know, progressive darkwave recordings functions as a label and management in name only. aside from a very talented group of artists, designers, street teams, and fans who help us survive as a self-produced entity, vora and i are completely responsible for production, promotion, publicity, bookings, management, and financial considerations. out of necessity, we've had to learn as we went, because i believed that we owed it to ourselves to become recording artists. i feel very fortunate to have had so many people pick up on what we're doing, and purchased our releases, but doing it yourself takes a strong toll, especially financially. after performing in and around the new york city area for three years to support the material on fear itself, we began pre-production on redemption, writing and tracking the album over the course of 1998, and into 1999. unfortunately, several tragedies would follow that prevented redemption from being released as scheduled, including parting ways with long-term drummer notorious, keyboardist/backing vocalist robynne naylor, bassist andy calcina, and more than a handful of flaky investors, production houses, and labels for the cd's release. i think we've been extremely fortunate to receive an overwhelmingly positive response to the pre-production material that was sent out over the last year or so in preparation for the release of redemption, but it has taken a toll in many ways. with a self-produced entity that survives primarily through the underground, there can be quite some time between release and reaction perhaps the disasters that have delayed the release were, in part, a small blessing in disguise, as the buzz has increased in the underground.
i think that our faith in the project after so many disappointments fall somewhere between having been extremely fortunate to have independently received an overwhelmingly positive response worldwide, somehow foolishly believing that this is the greatest music in the galaxy, and a drive to perfect coin-rolling techniques.
8) i guess you already must have tons on new material lying around. how does it sound like?
9) do you consider redemption to be a concept-album or merely an album with eleven different tracks, combined only by the choice of the song-titles, all beginning with re? if yes, what is the concept behind redemption?
There are certain themes running through redemption, although it is not a concept album, per se.
10) i've noticed that some of your lyrics deal with the image of circulation, of renewal and rebirth or getting a second chance. do you believe in reincarnation or any form of religion or religious attitudes?
I believe in a good measure of ambiguity when writing lyrics. Naturally, the themes have specific meanings for me, but I try not to assign definitive conceptual values to phrases, because listening should be somewhat interactive. Insofar as everyone's experiences are different, so should their interpretations be. The latin phrase preceding the title track of redemption essentially means, "as above, so below," and can be interpreted as 'what comes around, goes around,' or karmic intervention, a central theme within the album.
11) judging by your interviews i read on your homepage, humor seems to be an important fact in your life. something, that many people can't combine with the dark and doomy atmosphere which is part of the goth-scene and also with all the prejudices every subculture has to face. can aspects of this fine sense of humor also be found in your music and your lyrics or do you clearly separate between your artistic work and your private life? would you consider reduction to be part of this humor?
The humor seems to offset the dark, emotional context of our material, and provides the kids with something to giggle at besides the music. In any case, I'll be at the laugh factory from November 14-18th, and at caesar's for the holidays.
12) how much of your psychological studies can be found in the lyrics of braindance? what was the fascinating thing about studying psychology?
The most fascinating thing about studying psychology was not being able to find a job after graduation.
13) on the other hand compared to your psychological studies braindance are using comic artwork for their covers. a nice contrast not only to these studies but also to most of the goth/metal/whatever bands which most of the time take themselves too seriously. do you think that this is also one negative aspect of the music-scene in general, that too many people are much too serious about what they're doing?
I think life sometimes teaches you what it is that you don't want, and not necessarily what it is that you want. That being the case, it's far easier not to take oneself too seriously if you don't have all of the answers yet. Perhaps one day when i know everything, i'll start taking myself seriously. Until then, feel free to pass judgment upon me and subsequently laugh at me with derision, just like the others...
14) today's music biz often gives the impression that music is no longer a form of art, but a commercial product, put together by the music-biz. Boybands are cast not because of their musical talents, but because of their look and their supposed commercial potential. do you think that music as a form of art is undergoing a form of decline, losing it's acceptance as a form of art?
As mentioned earlier, generally speaking, the music business in the states is generally driven by fashion. as long as art is tempered by financial return, there will always be a&r reps scrambling around to figure out or dictate what will be fashionably profitable. Unfortunately, we've been cursed with being too funny looking to garner any attention with regards to pop sensibilities.
15) of course i have to ask how a typical braindance show looks like. i guess the chances of seeing braindance perform live in europe are minimal, or do you have clear plans to come to germany?
A typical show generally involves a lot of vomiting and refund requests, and given the opportunity, we'd be more than happy to bring that love over to you...