On Monday I posted my review of Datus’ EPs Masc, Fem, and Neut. If you haven’t already, give these albums a listen at their website. For this new segment titled “Getting to Know You”, I plan to give you all a closer look at emerging bands and artists. I am always curious about how bands create their music so I would like to share my findings. Over the course of email correspondence, I’ve had the opportunity to ask questions to both Ezer Longinus and Trevor Williams of Datus. This week let’s get to know Datus…
JL: When did you all form as a band?
Ezer Longinus: Some time in 2008 I recorded some demos in my apartment. I used those songs to lure in other members (most of those songs are what are now on the Masc EP). I had known Trevor mostly as a producer for Pep Rally, but he was interested in working with me to make some new music and start branching out. We started writing and recording fairly consistently since our initial formation. Once we finished recording some material, we brought in Rachele and Rebecca to play with us. Rebecca had recorded some songs with us for the releases, so it was an obvious choice to rope her in.
JL: Did you have additional studio musicians or did you employ a lot of effects in the studio?
EZ: The majority of the instrumentation on the EPs is either Trevor or I playing it. We did recruit some people to play various instruments and sing, but 90% of the music is one of us playing it. Rebecca was one of the major contributors, which led us to asking her to play with us.
JL: I really like the EPs cover art. Did you take those photos?
EL: The photographs for the EPs and on the website were from these photos I bought at a flee market in Brimfield, Mass. I found this amazing collection from someone’s personal album. It is a peculiar experience purchasing other people’s memories. Especially when the buyer and seller have little to no connection with the material they’re transacting.
JL: In your BIO you mention that as part of your song writing you
created musical experiments involving anything from household items to digital manipulations. Also, on your myspace page you list concrete as one of the musicial genres your band fits under. What kind of manipulations did you use to create some of the sounds on the EPs? There is definitely a strong electronic component component to your music, but is that a central focus in your song writing?
Trevor Williams: I would say there is a very basic type of song focus to our writing, even if it’s just the tiniest bit of a melody or just something that strikes our fancy. that seed then just becomes raw material for the rest of the thing, infinitely adaptable and transformable depending on how and where we want to go with it. At the end though, I think Ezer and I are still interested in making something that carries some of the expectations of and (hopefully satisfies like) a song, no matter how odd it gets. You mentioned musique concrete, and while i wouldn’t actually try and put what we do on that level (we just don’t have the discipline– the myspace thing might have been a little cheeky–sorry!), I would say we like that kinda stuff a lot. Varese is definitely that dude! And he said: “I do not write experimental music. My experimenting is done before I make the music.” I do think we go about it in this way. We definitely sometimes find ourselves in Nerdtown enjoying the Sillyparade (using an open D-minor bowed guitar, a contact mic through the body of a banjo, and a 4 track with a pitch shift wheel!) but ultimately it’s about making a good song that person would like listen to, without having to think about it too much.
JL: I feel that there is an eerie quality to some of your music. At times
there is a clear melody but other times there is a darker sonic exploration taking place. Is there a specific mood or musical aesthetic that you want to achieve and communicate?
TW: The mood thing is definitely important. We are always trying to build a complete structure with the songs and often the task of making up songs can come down to sifting through the piles of layers and deciding what to keep. I think the approach we advocate is intuitive more than anything. I don’t think we come with any specific idea our mood in mind. It’s just exciting to let something out and see where it goes. By that logic it is just a reflection of what we are like at the time we’re working on it. Ezer’s DJ name is DJ Dark Sonic now.
EL: I think some of the that aesthetic, for me, is a hold over from
my previous band. It is sort of a slow evolution for me, and hopefully
one that is on a course of musical improvement as opposed self indulgent wanking. It is definitely about intuition for us, and what we feel like expressing at that point in time. And hopefully there is some unifying thread throughout.
JL: The EPs titles seem to be an allusion to gender. Fem marks the introduction of Rebecca and Rachele, but is there any other meaning or narrative continuity that you are trying to achieve through the titles.
TW: Initially, yes (there were other titles before), but ultimately these titles are more an invitation than a directive. By referencing the gender grouping of words in language we wanted to invite the examination of contradictions (such as gender and its sometimes unrelation to the word it describes) inherent in any system like that rather than give you a framework to refer back to. Datus is definitely such a system, and as we progress, it only becomes more confounding (if not to you, then to us). The main continuity is (and will probably continue to be) the name.