Queenkv’s Aural Fixations: Interview with Eats Tapes

Filed under: Podcasts — Queenkv September 12, 2006 @ 11:44 am

Listen now!

This is a special edition of Queenkv’s Aural Fixations. I interview Eats Tapes in 2005 for the KSPC Program Guide.

That summer, Eats Tapes rocked my world during Tigerbeat 6 concert with Knifehandchop and Kid 606.

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Send them to: pika [at] queenkv-dot-org

Interview with Eats Tapes – Summer 2005

Eats Tapes wants to get you off your butt and dancing. It’s their preferred method for anyone listening to their infectious blend of loud, chaotic, frantic and playful acid/techno/house music.

The boy-girl duo from the Bay Area, California – kept dance hipsters freaking out during their cross-country tour with Kid 606 and Knifehandchop. On top of that, Eats Tapes released a new album on Tigerbeat 6 – Sticky Buttons.

I managed to snag an cell phone interview with Eats Tapes band members Marijke Jorritsma and Gregory Zifcak during the tour. They traveled from the West Coast to the East Coast and points in between in a comfy green Ford E350 van. As they drove from Madison, Wisconsin to their next gig in Denver, Colorado, we chatted about their early days as a band and as a couple. We also touched upon the methods and inspirations that made their music sound out of this world. Greg is 27 and Marijke turns 27 later this year.

K: Quick question, oh, my engineer said we need to get levels. Do you mind talking for a little bit?

M: Yeah, sure – hello hello hello helllllllllooooooooo helllllllllllooooooooo.

K: That sounded cool.
So, how do you say Marijke?

M: Marijke

K: What country is that from?

M: It’s a Dutch name, from the Netherlands.

K: OK – I’ll work on that. How did you and Greg get hooked up doing music together?

M: Uh, we met in Portland, Oregon. We were working at a restaurant together and then we became friends. Greg was playing music, by himself in a solo project called Illegal Minds. I was like his biggest fan. So then, we decided to start playing music.

K: Why were you his biggest fan when he was doing his solo project?

M: (Laughs) Maybe it’s because I’m his girlfriend! I don’t know why. Greg played at random house parties that we had. It would be weird whatever situations. i was really into what he was doing but other people were taken by surprised.

K: Why would people be taken by surprised by that kind of music?

M: Well, at the time, we were into these noise shows. There was this rock/noise influence and busting out with some crazy techno would be a little bit surprising for people. People raged out and danced and stuff. I was definitely raging out the hardest!

K: Awesome. From what I understand, you both started out as Boom de La Boom. And then you did this metamorphosis into Eats Tapes. How did that happen?

M: We started playing shows as Boom de la Boom. Then, I think we decided we didn’t like the name Boom de la Boom. We wanted to change it so that we could be a little more flexible with our music projects. So we could do really weird art projects. I don’t know. Just change it from just being a band. So we just change the name so it doesn’t sound like it just belongs in a club.

K: Is there anything about your music that indicates you actually “eat” tapes?

M: (laughs) That our music eats tapes? Our equipment occasionally fucks up. Every set we use tape loops that we make. Occasionally, the tape player eats the tape loop. So in that way, yeah.

K: (laughs) That must make for some really interesting shows. What happens then?

M: We just like…we’ll just take it out and throw it into the audience, or something. We get kinda bummed if it’s like a tape we really like because it’s kinda a pain in the butt to make tape loops. You have to sit there and splice them together. Then you get a tape loop you super like and you never want it to leave. And then it breaks and we try to fix it. But sometimes we’re really bummed and sometimes we just don’t care. Sometimes it’s a sign that it’s time to move on from that tape or something.

K: In addition to these tapes loops, what other unusual tools or instruments do you use to make music?

M: Good question. I’m going to pass it (the cell phone) to Greg.

K: OK, great

G: Hi.

K: Hi Greg!

G: The question is about unusual instruments?

K: Yeah. That you’re using in your music.

G: I guess, they’re not too unusual. It depends on your perspective about music. As far it is being pretty straight forward dance music – shitty cassette loops are pretty unusual for that style. i also do mixer feedbacks through a delay pedal. Which is something that you don’t typically hear in this sort of thing. a bunch of our stuff is modified to do stuff that it didn’t do originally. the fundamental pieces of gear that we use are very conventional for dance music.

K: When I was in Long Beach, I caught your set at Koo’s. I noticed you were using what looked like a child’s recorder or a child’s player.

G: That’s right. That’s right.

K: What did you do? Your warped up or something. What did you do to make it sound so damn cool?

G: It’s just a kid’s toy that plays different songs and makes different noises. I have modified that brand of toy before. I figured it would be easy. In fact it is. It’s made by V-tek. It’s easy to find, the part of the circuit that controls the pitch, which is the pitch and the speed of the sound. And so, I was able to add a knob that makes it go from really low and indiscernible to really high and squeaky. Most of the modifications I’ve done, like I want this synthesizer to have this other function, that could have been designed into it originally. It’s not in there and it would be easier to add. Like my drum machine. It’s a digital drum machine that uses samples. You don’t have any control over the sound. So I added pitch control over those sounds. I guess that sounds unusual because there’s such low resolution samples, that as soon as they get pitched up or down, they don’t sound like drums anymore.

K: Where do you get your inspiration? What are your musical influences?

G: Well, in general, a lot of techno and house. Having lived in the Bay Area for a while, I’ve been influenced by a lot of Bay Area noise artists and people who make and perform lo-fi music. And also, just dance parties. I think Marijke has something to add to that. Let me hand the phone back to her.


M: We were just talking about this the other day. Definitely acid, house mixes. I also get influenced by ideas and ways to combine music. Conceptual ideas like taking two things that might seem to be total contrasts, like harmony and dissidence, and combining them to see what the effect is.

K: Could you touch upon some examples of that in your new album, Sticky Buttons?

M: I think in the last song, ‘Acid, it’s What’s for Dinner’, the whole song is pretty cacophonous and insane. And then like, the end is pretty but screechy and repetitive synth line. It’s interesting to combine that insane frenzy with that release and then to have parts that have this amazing, driving, dancey melody. And then break it down into insane and confusing noise. It’s like the opposite of a breakdown. It’s adding more things instead of taking them away. I like the way that makes you feel. The expectation your body has to for something to keep going but to have all the noise to come out at once – instead of breaking down into a simple drum beat.

K: So you’re trying to push the envelope of what people are expecting from this electronica, house, acid, techno, whatever they’re trying to categorize your music as?

M: I’d say so.

K: What has been your favorite response to your music, either from fans or critics?

M: My favorite response is when people are freaking out (giggles). That’s the best. We were also talking about this the other day. When we changed over to Eats Tapes, our first show was this party in Portland, where like, it was also billed as a “heat wave” party. Unbeknown est to us. We showed up and we start playing and everyone tore off their clothes. Then they started dancing. We were really surprised! But it was really great. And weird, random people freaking out. It’s always very pleasing. We definitely feel weird when people sit down and try to relate to the music that way. We played some galleries and stuff and it’s always been a little bit awkward.

K: So you want people to be physical about your music?

M: It’s hands down dance music. I personally don’t think there’s anything to look at. We’re not doing anything interesting up there. Maybe if you’re super-geeking out on our hardware or something it might be interesting. I think the best thing to do is whip the dance floor into a frenzy. It’s different from a rock context where you like show homage to your band by standing up front. Instead, we’re asking people to communicate with us by dancing. And then we’ll keep playing.

K: Since you’ve been on tour, you’ve been everywhere. All over the United States. All the way up to Canada. How is it been different performing your music out there? And how do the different music scenes compare to the Bay Area?

M: Every place is really different. The first tour with Hustle was different because we were playing shows with people from an indie rock context. Sometimes that was really great and people loved it. Sometimes it was totally new for people and they thought were were freaks from outer space or computer engineers or something. In Chicago we played with some really great noise bands. People could go from one thing to the next. First they freaked out to the noise bands and then they freaked out to us. In terms of the Tigerbeat tour, I think people come pretty prepared to dance. It’s only a few places where maybe it’s a like a Monday night or everyone in the crowd is having a bad day. But it’s been pretty good. Canada is amazing. Toronto seems to be an amazing down for electronica music. People were just ready to go crazy immediately.

K: They don’t have any American inhibitions when it comes to music and performing?

M: No. It didn’t seem like they had any inhibitions at all. It was pretty wild.

K: I’d also like to ask you about your working relationship with Greg and your artistic relationship. How has it evolved as a relationship as artists and as human beings with each other?

M: It’s pretty intense since we’re dating. It has its ups and downs. It’s good because we’re together all the time and it’s bad because we’re together all the time. We’ve been together for 5 years. It’s not like we have problems communicating. We’re generally really receptive to each other’s ideas. There’s only a few times, like a few specific synth lines that we get spiced about. Greg thinks they’re too high pitched or something. But, it’s really not that serious. We respect each other. We’re open to other ideas. We want to do other stuff besides recording albums. Like different art installations as well. We’re totally into that and that’s nice. We have a really nice exchange, I’ve learned a lot about synthesis and electronic music from Greg. I feel we have a lot to offer each other. I’m sure he would say something I offer him. Let me put him on the phone.

G: Well, the stuff I’ve made by myself has been similar rhytmaticly but it’s been pretty minimal, in terms of melody and stuff…..

And then the line goes dead.

K: Hello? Can you hear me?

Operator: I’m sorry, all circuits are busy now. Please try your call again later.

I dial up their cell again. I cross my fingers and hope the computer will still record the interview. I get lucky and we manage to pick up our conversation again.

G: Compared to what I’ve done by myself, which was mostly drums, mostly minimal, I think what she brings is definitely a sense of melody. She’s able to write bass lines that I think I would have ever come up with. I’ve never been in this situation with another person and making this type of music. I’ve collaborated with other people but it’s always been with a different focus.

K: Moving on from the tour and your CD release, what do you want to do next?

G: Just experiment. That’s where I find inspiration. On a technical level, we’d like to get better recording equipment at the house so we could multi-track by ourselves and immediately record songs as soon as we write them. It’s been hard, because we come up with things we could do live and then we do them live for a year. Then when we record them, they feel kind of stale. Never been developed into full, discreet songs. It would be easier to get them out immediately. We recorded Sticky Buttons ourselves. It was difficult because the songs were old and we never fleshed them out in a discreet mix to go on an album. In this case, it took Tigerbeat 6 to put out the album to drive us to do the recordings.

K: One more question – why did you name your new album Sticky Buttons?

M: We had a hard time coming up with an album name. We have two sequences, and on one of them has a sticker on it that says: ‘We Never Sleep.’ And the other has another sticker that says ‘Sticky Buttons,’ because it in fact has sticky buttons. We thought it was cute and it referred to our gear. We thought it was kinda funny, like it sounded like ‘Stinky Butt.’ Wait…(to Greg) Was there any other reasons why we chose the title ‘Sticky Buttons.?’ I thought there was three layers. Oh, that’s right. It also alludes to our sound – it sounds like hardware made…like the button got stuck sometimes.

K: That’s awesome. Thank you so much. Thanks to Greg to. And good luck in Denver.

M: Cool, thanks.

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