What inspired you to first start making music? And how did you come to be in your current incarnation? Or if you prefer, a brief bio about you.
Ms: Professionally, I was trained in visual art, and when i was in animation school I had to take a sound design class. I had always been interested in music growing up, electronic music in particular, and this experience piqued my interest in the studio/recording aspects of music. After that one semester of sound design I pursued sound and music production studies on my own, using the internet and hand-on experimentation. Growing up, I was always in some half-assed band, but when I started to learn production I began to make electronic music more seriously with a guy I met from Philly, who goes by Akak (https://akakakak.bandcamp.com/). Eventually I met Jeremy who was in a similar place – learning to produce his own songs, and we began to experiment with combining our ideas.
JW: I started playing drums when I was 11 and basically moved on to every instrument after that. After playing in several bands in high school, I quickly realized that what i loved most about music was writing songs. While minoring in music in college, I began to experiment with recording music on my own. Though it was a long process, I kept dabbling in home recording and when I finally met Mikhail we decided that we would record everything ourselves, commiting to having complete control over our sound.
Provide us with some info about your latest release…
JW: “Feels like 69” is the latest single from our new album YOUNG LIVING. Along with trying to create an album experience, we wanted to add a visual element which is so fundamental in this day and age. The album begs the question “what does it mean to live young?” Is it set by age? By time? Or by our own minds?
MS: Young Living was always a multimedia project. We were very lucky to collaborate with many talented people in creating this strange and self-reflective world around the album.
Major shout outs to:
Karna Ray – cello, guitar, drums (https://kominas.bandcamp.com/);
Nina Medvinskaya – choreography, on both sides of the camera;
Charlie Jordan – directed Fuck Me video, director of photography;
Allie Kravitz – photography (http://www.alyciakravitz.com) ;
Abhay Singh – vocals, remix (https://www.facebook.com/teenageafterglow);
Zach Puls – vocals, recording, story (https://zachpuls.bandcamp.com/);
Chantal Lee – handholding;
all the friends that showed up to the video shoot at Alex’s house. (https://hotknivesworld.bandcamp.com).
Which ones would you consider your main influences both music-wise & non-music-wise?
MS: My main influences are Virginia Woolf and Nicolas Cage. My secondary influences are Franz Kafka, Samuel Beckett, Karin Dreijer Andersson, Bjork, John Cage, Giorgio Moroder, Abba, Ace of Base, Portishead, New Order, Kraftwerk, and, inevitably, David Lynch.
JW: Musically I can never escape the formidal sounds of my teenage years. Joy Division, Nick Cave and the Cure will always be there for me. The two things that got me into producing electronic music though were hip hop and the music of Johnny Jewel. Trying to emulate those influences pushed me out of the rock zone into the wider field of synthesised and sampled sounds. Besides music, my study of religion and particularly Tibetan Buddhism plays a huge influence on how I frame my lyrics and metaphors. Also the films of Wong Kar-Wai and John Woo. Psychedelic drugs too.
In what way does your sound differ from the rest genre-related artists/bands and why should we listen to your music? In other words, how would you describe your sound?
MS: Absolutely everyone who has heard our music has their own take on what the influences are. Someone will hear witch house, while someone else will hear Sparks, or Portishead, or even CAN. I don’t think that genre avoidance or defiance is a goal for either of us, but there is a fundamental tension at the nucleus of Party Dark that is a push-pull of our respective sensibilities which results in a sounds that is difficult to pin down. Over the last four years the over-all flavour of our music has evolved, and as a result, Young Living is a snapshot of where we are at the moment. From time to time we have used hybrid labels such as “disco-sludge” or “stoner-pop”.
JW: Though we use a lot of synthesizers and are inspired a lot by 80s production, we still maintain a thoroughly modern sound. We are essentially writing pop songs, just with our own skewed take on it.
Please name your 3 desert islands albums, movies & books…
JW: Album: Spiritualized – Ladies and Gentlemen We are Floating in Space
Book: The Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way: Nagarjuna’s Muladhyamakarkarika by Nagarjuna, Translated by Jay L. Garfield.
Movie: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Do you prefer studio or performing live and why?
Ms: For me, the relationship between live and studio work is one of the most exciting aspects of Party Dark. In the studio, there are no rules – a given track can have a dozen vocal harmonies, and another will have a guest cello part. When we play live, there are usually only two of us on stage, with a lot of gear, so there is always the challenge of reworking a song for live performance in a way where it’s true to the spirit of the record, but is also loose and fun to play, and has room to take on a life of its own. After our shows people will often remark on the differences between the record and the live performance, which is something we strive for.
JW: I mean if i had to choose…I would stay in the studio and write songs all day. But ultimately i think both experiences are necessary and inform each other. I agree with everything Mikhail says.
Is there any funny-unique story you would like to share with us, always in relation to your music ‘career’?
MS: No. I hate nostalgia. And I hate the 90s. The one thing I do like about the 90s, is that our musical career did not overlap with it.
JW: Ugh too many. Before we ever played a note of music I went to Mikhail’s place to jam for the first time. He offered me a pipe to smoke some weed and I was like “we could use that or I could roll a spliff.” So I rolled said spliff and we smoked it and chatted. After we finished the spliff, I said “well I suppose we should set up” and Mikhail said “we could do that…or could we smoke another spliff” and it was then I knew this was the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
Which track of your own would you point out as the most unique and why?
JW: From the new album I would have to say “Barely Legal Cheese.” It has an unconventional structure, no chorus per se, but still builds to a climactic finish. I hope more of our songs are like that as we continue.
Would you like to share with our readers your future plans?
MS: Residency at a Vegas nightclub.
JW: Correction…residency at a Vegas casino. Along with Party Dark we have several other acts that we are producing and releasing. I have my solo stuff, while Mikhail also works with Akak’s as previously mentioned. We also both work with a vocalist and guitarist doing separate material. I’m also working with female vocalist which has always been a dream of mine. All and all we are very busy and have a lot of new material on the way.
Free question!!! (Ask yourself a question) you wish to answer and haven’t been given the opportunity…
MS: Do you really hate the 90s?
Yes. I want to make it crystal clear that I am not championing the 80s, or any other decade. I don’t like the fact that cultural history is sectioned and packaged into decades, and I don’t like that music is treated the same way. When I hear terminology like “60s guitar” or “80s music” I get deeply sad. But I do, in particular, dislike the 90s as a cultural period, especially in music (except for rap and techno maybe and some cartoons). I say good riddance.
JW: Do you really agree with everything Mikhail says?
No, not really. In hindsight a lot of my favorite music comes from the 90s, though I’m down with not idealizing the past.
Photo credits: Alycia Kravitz
Curated by: Christos Doukakis
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