Friday, January 23, 2009

Coffee Talk with Rainbo Video

What's that kind of music where the producer is required by law to include at least one Lil John sample, be it as it may "Yeahhh-uh" or "Whatttt"?
Oh yeah it's bmore, and Chicago's own Rainbo Video is perhaps the best in the world at it. Continuing with my typical lack of reticence and affinity for the superlative, I hearby proclaim Rainbo Video the Lebron James of the club track. All hail to the king!
Well call it what you will, but this guy's got jams like you never heard before. I'm fascinated by the frenetic sonic tapestry woven together in his 5 song debut, which can be downloaded for free at Video Pop blog here. Introduced to me by a post on The Fast Life blog titled "Rainbo Video, Please Marry My Momma", I also became speechless after the first listen. There's nothing to compare these songs to in the universe! Buku extra credits for the sound innovation, extra style points for the Duncan Sheik, and he even details his process for creating them! My favorite is Xenoglossy 17, straight shivers bro.
Here is our conversation, and make sure to download his 2007 vintage live set, Dulcet Wreckage! 2007 will go down as one of the best years ever in electronic music by the way...
  • Lindsaylovesme: Who do you hang out with in the Chicago music scene? And who here would you like to work with?

  • Rainbo Video: I don't really hang out with anyone from the Chicago music scene on a regular basis, but I know some good DJs and producers who I try to catch play out: DJ C, Yea Big + Kid Static, the whole Noise Floor crew, Willy Joy, Capcom, Vyle. Also, my friend Mike is in a good folk rock band called Horse in the Sea. In terms of collaboration, Aleks and the Drummer and I have talked about working together before, which would be great. I think working with a pop band would be a lot of fun - The Changes, Office, Blah Blah Blah. You can definitely expect remix collaborations between Party Time 2000 and I, as well as live shows together. We're both really into electronic pop.

  • Lindsaylovesme: Did you grow up in Chicago or somewhere else? How do you think where you came from has influenced your music? Which neighborhood do you live in currently?

  • Rainbo Video: I was born in Chicago, but lived primarily in the southwest suburbs growing up. I think location has actually had very little impact on the music I'm interested in. I honed my taste mainly through the internet and exchanging music with friends, which in turn influenced the music I make. I was not a part of any Chicago scenes, be it post-rock and math rock or rave and house. I got interested in those genres not by going to shows and clubs, but just listening to lots of music. I'm living in Lincoln Park these days.

  • Lindsaylovesme: If somebody wasn't able to hear any sounds, what would you tell them your music is like?

  • Rainbo Video: I could give them some points of reference in terms of genre, but ideally I'd avoid that and just give them sensory experiences. And that's not just a quirky answer to avoid labels, I'm actually interested in the cognitive ways we perceive media. I might show them one of my films that's really bright and colorful and have them eat some cherry candy. I think my music is the aural conflation of those things. The whole bright neon color thing has become somewhat ubiquitous and overexposed in indie dance culture in the past couple of years, which I think is unfortunate because most people use it as this generic retro 80s signifier. But I've always been interested in it as a kind of pleasurable but violent sensory input - a way to induce a euphoric feeling when it's slightly restrained, and a headache when it's really assaulting.

  • Lindsaylovesme: On a scale of 1 - 10, how stupid and mundane would you say these questions are so far (1 being the least stupid and 10 being the most)?

  • Rainbo Video: 1 - The questions are gold.

  • Lindsaylovesme: On a scale of 3 - 6 (6 being the most), how annoyed were you when I bailed out of meeting you for lunch this week in the Chase building, keeping in mind that it was extremely cold and we both could have gotten frostbite?

  • Rainbo Video: 3 - Not annoyed at all! Chicago is a barren tundra.

  • Lindsaylovesme: And on a scale of 4 to 100 (100 being the hardest), how hard do you think you'll rock it as opener for Futurecop! at the Empty Bottle on March 3rd (perhaps my favorite venue)?

  • Rainbo Video: 99 - I don't want to injure anyone.

  • Lindsaylovesme: I was intrigued by a line you wrote in your Video Pop blog in the 9-14-08 post, "The Sound of Rainbo Video" - " case you forgot my stance on music, none of these samples were used ironically. I really do love Duncan Sheik." Please, tell me more about your stance on music!

  • Rainbo Video: For me, genres and their cultural associations are largely irrelevant. I made the Duncan Sheik comment because he's a good example of Top 40 Adult Contemporary Pop, which in the world of music criticism either has a stigma attached to it because it's perceived as commercial and vapid, and therefore can only be appreciated ironically or as a guilty pleasure, or it has a vaguely positive association because it's used as a way to establish some kind of universal cred ("I legitimately love this heartfelt mainstream track as well as obscure avant-garde music and therefore am ultimately sophisticated.") Ideally, people don't read my use of it as any of those things, and just think, "Wow, that was a really catchy melody and an interesting new way of repurposing it."

    If I sample something, it's because I like how it sounds. I'm not trying to make some critical statement about its cultural context. In other words, I really only care about the sounds, and whether they're in some way pleasant. I certainly gravitate toward some genres more than others, but that's because statistically, the majority of the songs in those specific genres are sonically pleasing to me. Genres aggregate songs that follow similar musical and sonic conventions, so if you find those conventions aurally pleasing, it's likely you'll appreciate the genre as a whole. The opposite is true as well.

    I'll like almost any song that has really catchy, melodic hooks and harmonies, regardless of genre. Video Pop is based entirely on that idea - "pop" as a sound, not a genre. Interesting rhythmic elements are good too, but inessential for me - I listen to a lot of ambient. Most of the music I listen to is instrumental, so lyrics are of little importance. If they're clever or interesting, like, say, Stephin Merritt's or Gastr del Sol's, then they're the icing on the cake, but honestly bad lyrics don't bother me if the music is amazing.

    Ultimately, what all of this means in terms of my own music is that I won't be staying within the limits of any one style or genre. I don't think I could even if I tried. Coming from a background in experimental film, I don't see music as this really personal way of expressing myself, I see it as a broad method of creating a perceptual experience. I sculpt sound and try to induce a specific response in the listener, and there are many ways to accomplish that.

    Right now people think of me as another electro pop/dance producer, but that's just because the tracks I've released can be broadly grouped into those categories. It's kind of happenstance that dance music is what I've released. And actually, I think people call me "electro pop" just based on the fact that that term is in vogue right now. It doesn't bother me at all, but if I had made this music at an earlier time, I'm positive people would call it something completely different. They'd call it electroclash, or IDM/glitch, or big beat, or hardcore rave, or computer music/plunderphonics. Which is great! After all, labels enable people to talk to each other about music, which is a good thing. Outside of communicating about it, though, I think we should try to divorce music itself from any labels or cultural associations and just appreciate the sounds.


Thanks to Rainbo Video, visit his myspace and be sure to download his Dulcet Wreckage mix here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love your interviews !!!