Event: Battle Cat Fundraiser, Tonight at 7 p.m.
Interviewed Artist: Massage Club, performs at 10 p.m. or so
Other Event Performers: TigerPunch Improv, Sarah Lydia Anne Banks, Honey LaBronx Vegan Drag Queen, Omar Bustamante, and Dan Monaghan
Venue: Arrogant Swine, Bushwick, Brooklyn
1. Very excited to see you guys perform tonight at the Battle Cat Fundraiser at Arrogant Swine in Brooklyn. What has Massage Club been up to?
Mariá Vas: We just recorded an album with our friend and producer Kahan James. It’s our first “real” recording. All new stuff that we’ve been working on for the past year or so. I really wish we could send you something from it right now, but we’ve just finished tracking.
2. What from your wonderful BandCamp page, http://massageclub.bandcamp.com/, can we expect to see you play live tonight?
Mariá: “Energy” is the only demo out of those four that we will perform tonight. The other songs are from a different phase. When the band had a different formation and sound.
3. Your band has a Brazilian connection, does it not?
M: I am Brazilian. Born and raised. I moved to NY about 8 years ago.
4. Since it sounds like only band members and producer Kahan James are the only ones in the know about what Massage Club sounds like right now, can you point to other references, e.g. other bands, for fans of indie music in general?
M: This is a tricky question. I can get inspired by pretty much anything, even things I don’t necessarily like. And there are a lot of contemporary musicians/bands that we admire. The list would be huge. Dirty Projectors, Devendra Banhart, Mac DeMarco, CocoRosie, LCD, David Byrne and Bjork just to name a few. But we don’t aspire to sound like anything particularly. We try to give our songs the sound they are asking for. That’s it.
5. Yeah, “Energy” for me would summon a rich vocal like a Bjork or Joanna Newsom, over minimalist guitar akin to the xx. But what should we go in expecting for tonight's benefit show? What is Massage Club on stage?
M: Expect nothing and be ready for anything. Like dreamers do.
6. Massage Club has been around awhile (https://www.facebook.com/massageclub). But from what I can gather, the band has chosen to evolve, rather than to remain static. Can you explain Massage Club's development?
M: Back in 2010 a Brazilian friend of mine moved into a hole in the wall in a Bushwick loft she shared with six other people. The next day she called me and said “we are in a band.” I had never played an instrument or been in a band before. So I was like “yea right…” It turned out she’d met Steve Nelson and the two bonded over Caetano Veloso and Os Mutantes and they decided to do a Tropicália cover band. And she signed me up as the singer. I went along with it. Few weeks in and I started writing my own songs. Then a friend, Ian Gilian, joined to play drums and another Jake Strunk filled in on the bass. We wrote about 6 or 7 songs. They were juicy and fun. These guys all had other bands they were serious about so Massage Club was our fun little hobby project. We were kids, there was a whole Bushwick scene and we were playing all sorts of loft parties, DIY venues and other Brooklyn venues such as late Trash Bar.
God rest its saintly soul.
M: Then I decided to move to Italy and that was the end of it. Except it wasn’t. Over the one year I lived there songs kept coming to me and I kept writing them. When I came back Steve and I started working on them and we needed a new band. But these new songs they didn’t call for a typical four piece rock band. They were different, weirdly structured and often so distinct from one another. So we invited Sarah Rayne, an old friend from the loft times and she started playing keys. We worked hard, we tried out some other members that didn’t work out and eventually brought in Kahan James to produce us. He is currently recording and producing our album and also having a blast on the drums. Tonight the four of us will play what has come out of this collaboration so far. We’ve come a long way to connect with people through our music and that’s our favorite thing to do.
That comes through in songs like “Energy,” which I'll look forward to hearing tonight!