Tuesday, July 28, 2009

ILAB Artist Series: Hyperbubble

Recently, I Love Analogue Blog sat down, in a virtual sense, with Texas-based electro scene stealers Jeff and Jess from Hyperbubble
We chatted and here it is:

ILAB You're an electronic band.
You're in Texas.
You're close to Austin, which is known for Blues and Country.
Do people ever question your instrumentation?
I.E. Ask where the pedal steel guitar is?

JESS: Oh, sure. The cool thing about that is, synth twiddlers really stand out amongst all those guitar-pickers. We enjoy being the anomaly.

JEFF: But hey, Texas is the home of N.A.S.A. You can't get much more techno than that.


ILAB:I notice that you flaunt (in a good way!) that you
are big fans of vintage and current hardware synthesizers.
What appeals to you about the sound and feel of these
instruments that you can't find in software equivalents?

JEFF:We've really got nothing against softsynths, and we use software sequencers. As far as any difference in sound and feel, we're punks, not purists.
JESS: What we love about hardware synthesizers is that they look as alien as they sound. There's something impressive about seeing a big bank of gear, all stacked up, cords going every which way.

Santa, Jeff, and a microKorg.
Yes, kids, this really happened!

ILAB:You're on Myspace and Twitter.
What do you find that you do to stay in touch with your fans and offer value to them for being a present or future "Bubblehead?"

JEFF: Wish we knew! We're just happy that people keep getting turned on.

JESS: Hyperbubble is a unique band, and our fans are unique people.

Playin' For The Fans.

ILAB:The band has a very unique look, from the clothing and accessories to the way you're photographed. Is this
something calcluated, or just something you do to set yourself apart?

JESS:Jeff and I both come from a visual art background. We're into packaging, image, and concept. Stardom is silly, so there's a lot play around with.

JEFF: We've had access to synthesizers and drum machines for quite some time, but it wasn't until we got Photoshop that we said, "NOW we can be in a band!"

A Photoshopped Jess.

ILAB:How collaborative is your writing process? Do you typically start with a set of lyrics, or do you build up from a musical bed?

JEFF:It could go either way. The song, "Leon" for instance, was something we used to sing around the house to one of our pet cats.
The lyrics kept growing week after week, until one day we thought, "hey, we should record this!"
JESS:So we followed our cat around the house with a microphone and sampled some choice meows, then built the drum track around the kitty vocals.

Like This?

ILAB:Because of the instrumentation of most electronic bands, it gets tagged "retro" by the general public, even though
most bands with guitars, bass, and drums don't. What do you do in your live shows to get people involved and to draw in
new audience members?

JEFF:We give'em something to look at, something to dance to,
and pack it full of energy.
Most of all, it's important to us to acknowledge the audience's presence.
Some of our fans are from the MTV generation,
and they relate what we do to the videos they watched as a kid.
That's cool.
Another part of our audience are younger techno geeks, who realize much of our equipment was not available in the 80's, so there's no way we could be retro.

JESS:We've always considered guitars to be "retro", not synthesizers.
Synthesizers and sequencers are the future.

Hyperbubble (and their synths) Live.

ILAB:If Hyperbubble had its own sitcom, what would happen in a typical episode?

JEFF:Each episode would begin with Jess in a new outfit,
drivng the Bubblemobile to our secret underground studio,
where we record our latest single,
before trotting the globe,
playing benefit concerts,
and solving creepy mysteries.

Hyperbubble: The TV Show.

ILAB:When was the first time you heard a synthesizer, and what was it?

JESS:I would guess Television.
Probably on Sesame Street, or a commercial or something like that.
As a kid, it was easy to grasp a guy strumming a guitar, or banging a drum, but synthesizers sounded like MAGIC.
The Moog was invented before we were born, so we didn't have any prejudice towards it.

Pioneering Recording Artist Suzanne Ciani (above) often demonstrated her analogue synths on shows like "Sesame Street" and "The Electric Company."

JEFF:So along with playing air-drums, and air-guitar, we'd also play air-moog in our bedrooms-holding down invisible keys and twisting invisible knobs!
The first time I actually got to play a Synthesizer was at a Radio Shack store.
The ConcertMate MG-1.

The Very Moogy Concertmate MG-1.

JEFF:(cont.) I was smitten. The clerk was annoyed; "HEY, KID. GET AWAY FROM THAT THING! LET SOMEBODY ELSE PLAY WITH IT! "

ILAB: What are the origins of the band?
How did you form?
What was your first gig?

JEFF:The first live Hyperbubble show was November 2003, at a San Antonio Art Gallery.
Before that, we were in an avant-garde experimental electronic group called Crevice.
Tons of synthesizers, proccessors, and yes...pedal steel guitar!
Crevice was the farthest thing from a pop band.
More SPK than DFA.

JESS:Around the same time, we began performing together in a 4-member bubblegum band called Pink Filth.
Pink Filth and Crevice both blurred the boundaries between audio and visual art, and each contributed to the formation of Hyperbubble's sound in one way or another.
The other 2 guys in Pink Filth still work with Hyperbubble, just a bit more behind the scenes, helping with live sound, studio production and photography.

First Hyperbubble Live Show.

ILAB:If you could meet on person in electronic music history, who would it be, and what's the first thing you would say to him/her?

JEFF:I've run into a couple of electronic music biggies before, and the truth is, I never know what to say.
I recall approaching J.G. Thirlwell, and after all the things I thought of saying to him , all I could get out was, "I like your music."

J.G. Thrilwell, aka "Foetus."

JEFF:(cont.) I fared only slighty better when meeting Manuel Göttsching.
Y'know, I think I'd rather discuss minature golf with these guys, something non-musical, otherwise I feel like I'm asking them questions they've heard a million times before, in interviews.

Manuel Göttsching.

JESS:I met Jeff, and I said "Let's rock".

Let's Rock.

Official Hyperbubble Site
Hyperbubble Myspace
Hyperbubble Twitter

ByI Love Analogue Blog,2009.


Joe Wallace said...

Hyperbubble are hands down, the hardest working band in BubbleLand. Seriously, they are one of my favorites and I DO wish they'd put out a VINYL RECORD so I could put it up on Turntabling.net and show the world a slab of electronic deliciousness pressed on colored wax. Mmmmm. A nice bright shiny red vinyl album would be soooo choice.

Great interview, too...and you should see Jeff GO on that Concertmate Moog. Crazy.

iloveanalogue said...

That's Awesome, Joe!