Lizzi Bougatsos of Gang Gang Dance
» Bollywood, reincarnation, Eye Contact and the world of GGD
Gang Gang Dance.
Gang Gang Dance has a new record out called Eye Contact that is making waves amongst both fans and critics alike. Front woman Lizzi Bougatsos was nice enough to pencil Impose in between shows to talk about “global awareness records,” the taco truck scene in NYC and getting switched on to Kate Bush.
HOW’S THE FALAFEL CART SCENE OUT THERE IN NY THESE DAYS?
Oh the falafel carts... um, no, honestly the best thing about New York right now are the taco trucks and I heard they’re really delicious but I’m really seriously afraid of eating food out of a truck. This one time I was in Texas and I got really sick. You know how it is, you’re on tour, there’s no place to eat good food, so I couldn’t help it. So I went to a taco truck, because you know, tacos are the best in Texas right? So I went there, I didn’t want to go to the grocery store but then I got really really sick so, I don’t know. But Portland, the Portland food trucks are very, very healthy.
IN PORTLAND, OREGON?
Yes, in Portland Oregon. That’s one hot tamale or however you say it, ha ha! And other good food trucks are in new York that have really good burritos that really kick some…ha ha, you know!
IS THE SHAKE SHACK STILL A BIG THING THESE DAYS?
That sounds familiar, wait, oh, no, I don’t think that’s so hot anymore, it’s not so hot because everyone’s vegan, glucose free, gluten free, ha ha, I feel like no one drinks dairy anymore, that’s probably why we have this break down of the shake. We have to shake the shake off, ha ha! The shake factor went down!
I CAN RELATE TO YOUR TEXAS TACO TRUCK EXPERIENCE, I ATE SOME DEEP FRIED POTATO FRIES IN AUSTIN THAT DAMN NEAR RUINED MY LIFE.
I know how you feel, I just came back from Taiwan and the food there is horrendous.
WOW, I KNOW YOU JUST HAD A EUROPEAN TOUR. I DIDN’T REALIZE YOU WENT TO TAIWAN AS WELL.
Oh well, I went to Taiwan with this film and like video maker named Danny Perez he made that ODDSAC release with Animal Collective and he’s a filmmaker who wanted to work with my other band IUD. We have been wanting to work together for a long time so I went with him and we had a really good show there, we got a lot of really good footage, we had this whole performance and we went a little bit…odd as well! Heh heh…
THAT’S REALLY COOL. SO I TAKE IT YOU ALSO HAD A GOOD TIME WITH ANIMAL COLLECTIVE AT THE ALL TOMORROW’S PARTIES IN MINEHEAD,UK AND ALL THAT?
Oh yeah, I mean, Animal Collective are like family style you know.
I WAS GONNA SAY, THAT’S ALMOST LIKE A DREAM FESTIVAL FOR YOU GUYS.
Yeah, that was kinda like a dream festival.
HOW DO YOU LIKE PANDA BEAR’S TOMBOY ALBUM?
You know, I didn’t even get it yet. I don’t even have it yet, so I’m not sure. How do you like it?
IT HAS SOME AIRY ATMOSPHERES, VERY MUCH LIKE FUTURISTIC CHAMBER MUSIC.
Oh really? That’s nice, I love that. I love Noah’s vocals; he always reminds me of Bryan Ferry. Ha ha ha!
YEAH, THE BOTH UTILIZE THE HIGHER REGISTRIES FOR THE RIGHT MOMENTS TO REALLY TAKE IT THERE.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I have always thought that the two of them have that thing going on.
REALLY COOL. I ALSO WANTED TO TELL YOU THAT I HAVE BEEN ENJOYING EYE CONTACT A LOT.
Oh¸ thank you.
“GLASS JAR” HAS BEEN REALLY HAUNTING MY WORLD THESE DAYS. WHAT I CAUGHT ON MY RECENT LISTEN WAS HOW YOU HAVE TO GO THROUGH THESE ELECTRONIC SPHERES BEFORE WE BREAK INTO THE REALM THAT YOU AND COMPANY HAVE CREATED WITH THE ALBUM. AND LIKE THE QUOTE AT THE BEGINNING OF “GLASS JAR,” “I CAN HEAR EVERYTHING…IT’S EVERYTHING TIME,” WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR THE ALBUM AND TO YOU?
Right now it’s sort of everything…it was really fun when that was said on the album. Basically we have a member that travels with us that we have sort of adopted as a band member because he’s really relaxed and he has a great vibe. He’s one of my oldest friends and we call him our spiritual advisor, eh heh heh!
YOU GOT TO HAVE ONE.
You got to have one! But when we were mixing the album we wanted Taka to sing on a song but nobody asked him because technically he’s not a musician but he loves music and so I kind of knew that he wanted to so I asked him if he would and he said, “yes, I would like to.” So that was basically the first thing out of his mouth. When he put the headphones on he said, “I can hear everything,” because our engineer said “can you hear yourself?” And that’s what he said! After he said that it became our motto, there’s no looking back, now is everything.
WITH THAT AND THE MAGNITUDE OF THE ALBUM, I HAVE HEARD YOU SAY BEFORE THAT YOU WERE INTERESTED IN MAKING “GLOBAL AWARENESS RECORDS” AND I WAS WONDERING IF EYE CONTACT WAS A “GLOBAL AWARENESS RECORD?”
Well, I think the global awareness part is part of our spiritual internal quest for integrating human nature closer to us as a band. I think Eye Contact is a continuation of that, we recorded it in the desert, at a house in the woods, it’s very needed to ground ourselves in an environment to be more aware and in touch with different parts of ourselves. It’s very much a global awareness record in my mind for sure!
HOW WAS IT RECORDING AT, WHAT IS IT, A FRIEND’S HOUSE OF YOURS IN JOSHUA TREE?
Yeah, I have a friend who has a house there in 29 Palms and we pretty much moved our music studio into her house and it was really…have you ever been around there?
NOT ANY AMOUNT OF TIME, NO.
It’s really magical out there and some people go crazy, heh heh, because it can get really hot. It has a certain vibe; I wrote “Adult Goth” when I was there that was pretty epic for me. I think you can hear it in the song, the sand, the more relaxed vibe, sort of, I don’t know.
YEAH, IN “ADULT GOTH” AND “THROUGH AND THROUGH” THERE’S A BOLLYWOOD EDGE TO IT.
Yeah, “Through and Through” was written there too, yeah, I often get compared to a lot of Bollywood singers. I do like the playfulness of a lot of Hindi soundtracks and Indian soundtracks. Our old drummer was a Bollywood fanatic. When we would record things he was always playing tracks from Indian cinema. I think the first time when it came out really strong was our song “Egowar,” I think that was my first dive into Bollywood soundtracks and integrating them more into my sounds.
IT’S WILD TOO BECAUSE THERE’S SUCH A RANGE, LIKE ON “ROMANCE LAYERS” IT DELVES INTO ALMOST CLASSIC PAULA ABDUL OR JANET JACKSON RHYTHM NATION ERA DRUM MACHINES WHILE YOUR VOICE SOMETIMES TAKES AN ELIZABETH FRASER/KATE BUSH QUALITY AND I WAS WONDERING IF THEIR MUSIC HAS INFORMED YOUR OWN CREATIVE PROCESS IN ANY WAY?
Well, I mean I think around 1997 my drummer was playing Kate Bush for me a lot and he was my boyfriend at the time and he was always trying to get me to listen to it but I was listening to Hot 97, the hip hop station. So I was giving him my story and my upbringing, but I also had an alternative upbringing as well, you know, singing in the mirror to Sinhead O’Connor while I was like, driving in the car. But him playing Kate Bush for me back then was really interesting because it was really theatrical and I didn’t tell him I was listening to the albums and I would wait ‘til he was out of the house because he was really pushing it on me and so I didn’t really go there at the time. Then a few years later my girlfriend came over and said, ‘you know you really sound like Kate Bush, you sound like her’ and then she brought like five albums over to my door and then I got really into her vibe and her videos. You know I then realized that I have this whole theatrical thing that is pretty Kate Bush.
THERE’S A GREAT DOCUMENTARY THAT CAME OUT LAST YEAR ON KATE BUSH’S HOUNDS OF LOVE ALBUM.
I know! I saw it!
PRETTY INTERESTING, HER WHOLE DROPPING OUT OF THE PUBLIC EYE, AND HER USE OF THE FAIRLIGHT CMI SYNTHESIZER ON THAT ALBUM WAS PRETTY GROUNDBREAKING AND MAKING A NOVEL OF HER OWN CHOOSING.
You know she was moving on up, her stuff is so beautiful really. I really respect artists that keep making what they want to make when they want to make it, you know what I mean?
I mean, I know I’ve heard ‘why so much time between albums, your last album was like in 2005, or 2008!’ How can you make something in the time that you would like, you know what I mean?
WELL YOU JUST MADE AN ENTIRE COMPOSITION IN 7 PIECES. HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT STRINGING TOGETHER 7 SONGS AND INTERLUDES?
I think it’s the most cohesive album we have ever made because the songs are so extremely different, because they took the shape that they needed to go, you know what I mean, so that created a flow and then the interludes like “infinity,” “double infinity,” “triple infinity” they weren’t really songs, we wanted to treat them as interludes to creates some breathing space between songs because they are so different. I think that emotion is so important in an album, it’s so important to music and I think the interludes really helped the album have that dynamic and that was part of the cohesive whole of the album.
WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO TITLE THE INTERLUDES IN THE INFINITY SYMBOLS FOR “∞,” “∞∞,” “∞∞∞?” IS THERE A STORY BEHIND THE SYMBOLS TO YOU?
Well sure…it’s a pretty great symbol don’t you think?
SURE, I MEAN, IT LOOKS GREAT VISUALLY IN VARIOUS TRACKLISTING PLATFORMS FROM THE LINEAR NOTES TO THE DISPLAY ON PLAYLISTS.
I feel the same way, I mean anytime I see that infinity symbol I think of the tiger chasing its tail, figure 8s, it never ends you know, it basically says the world still turns and helps you to carry on.
IT SEEMS LIKE YOU GUYS HAVE BEEN THROUGH A LOT IN THE PAST DECADE AND I WAS WONDERING HOW YOU AND THE BAND GO ABOUT EXPRESSING LOSS THROUGH THE CATHARSIS OF YOUR MUSIC?
I think that sadness is very important to channel when somebody passes away. Actually “Glass Jar” is about reincarnation, that idea of somebody coming back to you as something else. Like I always kind of think about it as my grandfather, who was Native American, and I think that we have this sort of relationship to the earth where my grandfather would paint what happens to you in the afterlife on a wood block, he would basically take a branch and chop them up and put them all around the house. Yeah, So that was sort of the way we went about it, trying to find them in their re-incarnated ways.
FOR ME IT’S ALWAYS DIFFICULT GRAPPLING WITH THOSE DIALOGUES WITH THOSE WHO AREN’T WITH US, IT’S A DIFFICULT THING BUT STILL BEAUTIFULLY EXPRESSED IN EYE CONTACT. AND I KNOW YOU AND BRIAN ARE ALWAYS UP TO VARIOUS VISUAL WORKS AND DOING STUFF WITH FOUND OBJECTS, I WAS WONDERING WHAT VISUAL ART PROJECTS YOU GUYS HAVE BEEN UP TO AS OF LATE?
Brian has a show right now in New York at the James Fuentes Gallery “As the World Burns,” it’s really great, there’s one piece where there’s a banana rotting on top of the White House and he has another piece that has the thinker texting on a cell phone. It’s the second show’s he’s had there, I have a show in Moscow right now, Brian and I have a show in Japan in June, so yeah, we’re pretty busy!