Dorian Wartime and Sylvia Innocent of Psychic Dancehall

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Explanations on how to be "post-everything" and make a record about drag bars.

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Mikaila Beusman | September 12, 2011

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What are you doing in Berlin?

Dorian: I am taking a tour of Germany's illustrious TV tower restaurants.

What is the significance of the names “Dorian Wartime” and “Sylvia Innocent”? And what motivated you to take on pseudonyms?

Dorian: We felt that every aspect of this album, from the aesthetics of the art, the choice of songs and names of the members should be unique. Just as it has been noted, we created a world of our own during our tenure at the Theatre Apartments, so to further complete our idea and enhance the listeners imaginations we invented characters. There was never any course of action other than to make something very cinematic and equally alluring that involved the use of fiction.

You have a rather limited internet presence. Do you think this will change as you come out with more releases? Somehow you seem at once very aware of your image and unconcerned with it.

Sylvia: Do I think our internet presence will grow with the introduction of more material? I would certainly have a right to expect so but in no way does it bother me one way or another. It is just as easy to disappear from the internet as it is to completely fabricate a false identity within it. Perhaps that is similar to what he and I have done but only ever so slightly and only to create a unique experience for the listener to be enthused.

On your last.fm page, you've been tagged as 'post-everything'. How would you respond to this characterization?</strong>

Dorian: It sounds alright. It beckons a response similar to that of calling your band Neu! It isn't a terribly detrimental tag to place upon your music. It sounds pretentious for sure, ha ha ha. Our shared vision for this project certainly has a lineage to past “post-everything” rogue idealists like Scott Walker, Sara Vaughn, Vini Reilly, and Cosey Fanny Tutti but I would feel arrogant calling our music anything besides “our music.”

The story of your band's genesis is really intimately connected with the story of your relationship — how did the two progress? Did you start this project and your relationship simultaneously, or did the music come afterwards?

Sylvia: We ran out of things to say to each other ha, ha, ha! We moved in together. It was the rainiest winter ever in San Diego and so, with us both being musicians, we decided to see what we could produce with the little equipment we had. It was a challenge. I painted my nails a lot while he sampled records endlessly.

It seems like music, for you, is a major part of a really solipsistic world. Do you care if other people hear it, or is it more of an introspective making-sense-of-the-world thing? Or do you see the two as not mutually exclusive?

Dorian: It never entered my mind until Mario asked to release it. With that being said we are both very proud of what came to be. Obviously we wouldn't have put so much thought into the fabrication of it all had we not known it would be pressed. It's our homage to the time and place in which we recorded it. Bars like the Red Wing and Eagle spring to mind. As for your solipsistic comment, I feel that as an artist whether you acknowledge it or not fabricating the aesthetics that flow through your mind and proving to yourself that you are as crazy as your dreams is the one true sign that you are living and not simply letting life live for you.

I read that this album was really influenced by living close to drag bars and gay bars — what are some of the more interesting or surreal things you've seen in that environment? Was anything or anyone especially compelling to you?

Dorian: San Diego doesn't have a lot to offer outside of cheap thrills like drunk driving and enduring mindless suburban sprawl so naturally the place where all the people who are actually living is inside of dive bars. It would begin to sound a bit exploitive if I spoke only of drag bars and our gay friends who inhabit them so I will only add that we fed a lot off of the lives we saw on stage and that the chorus melody to White City was written by a friendly dancer named Lexus Diamante 😉

Parts of your music are so light, almost ethereal, but there's also a really dark and gritty undercurrent. Do you have difficulty reconciling the two or does it come easily?

Sylvia: I think it comes easy. In time it will be known as the only aesthetic qualities we ever had ha, ha ha.

Who (or what) would you list as your influences?

Dorian: Influences… Arthur Lee, Arthur Russell, Arthur Baker, Arthur Brown, and Arthur Rimbaud.

Do you have tour plans?

Sylvia: We will tour the UK this winter as long as Dorian's french lessons don't stand in our way.

What would you say your band's spirit animal is?

Sylvia: Zebra.

What is the songwriting process like for you — is it really collaborative?

Sylvia: We drive each other mad with desire!

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