| Band: Butterfly Messiah|
Interviewer: Julie Johnson
GC: What the name of your band and Who the current members?
Butterfly Messiah, current members are: Shannon Lyn Garson, Robert Davis and Joshua Harrington. We're currently trying to woo a 4th member, but I can't say anything about it yet.
GC: How did you become connected to make music?
I saw Shannon in childhood visions and we met in 1994 when friends brought her over to my house. A few years ago I had visions of Josh and a friend of his and I met the friend at a club and invited him over. He brought Josh with him and Josh has been with us ever since.
GC:What are your musical influences?
All three of us were in punk bands when we began our journey.
Shannon's influences primarily range from arthouse rock like Miranda Sex Garden and Arthouse pop like Blondie and Bjork, though she's a big fan of 80's synth pop and indie rock. Josh is more in tune with euro techno and synth disco, but he has a soft spot for 70's and 80's electro pop and indie pop. My love ranges from asian folk music to 60's psych/garage rock to 70's soul/pop to new wave and electro pop. I like a lot indie rock/pop and such a lot and we all love a lot of "pushing the edge" electronic music like Squarepusher, Aphex Twin and Autechre.
We're really impressed with bands like the Faint and Franz Ferdinand and are happy to see some good music finally making waves again. And we're all huge Radiohead fans.
GC: What is your live show like?
Think "Blondie mixed with Eurythmics"
GC: Tell us about your own unique style of music?
Really, we just put together some hot beats, play synthesizers, occasionally throw in some traditional instruments and have a fantastic singer.
Our first album was a bit minimalist, the second album was slick and dancey and the as-yet-unfinished 3rd album will be gritty, jumping electro-pop. Real electropop/synthpop, not that EBM vocal trance shit. We've finally found what we've always been looking for and people are going to freak out.
What separates your band from all the other bands out there?
ALL? Before we began working on the new album, I'd have a hard time answering that question. Now, its not so hard. We're combining urban electro-bot groove with new wave chic, the seemingly lost art of classic pop songwriting and arthouse depth and principles. We're the only ones doing it the way we're doing it and people will have to hear it for themselves to have any idea what I'm babbling about. I don't know if it'll rock the world, but it'll change the face of the underground forever.
GC:How do you go about writing songs?
Typically, its like building a pet monster in a laboratory. One person will get an idea, take it wherever he/she can take it, then it gets handed over to me for re-arrangement. Then everyone takes stabs at it until its done. The refining process (in most cases) takes longer and longer as we progress as a band. Sometimes, however, we'll just be jamming and playing around and come up with a song in collaborative bliss. THEN we stab at it over and over until its done!
GC: Pick one of your latest songs and talk about everything from writing it, meanings, the challenges of recording it?
One of our brand new songs, "Nothing to Lose", began with a really basic synth bassline and a cool disco beat. It began as one of Josh's ideas and then I took a stab at it and changed a few of the root notes. Then Josh came up with a bunch of rad synth parts, added more percussion and handed it over to me for re-arranging. I added some drum changes and changed a few of the sweeps around. I then arranged it and Shannon and Josh added/changed more synth parts. I re-arranged it based on the new additions and then Shannon added another synth part and laid down her vocal parts. She then did a few overdubs and now we're at the stage where I need to add some backing vocals. Then Josh will take another stab at it if he feels anything is missing and our new unofficial member will take a stab at it.
As for recording it, its interesting because during the process of recording the new songs, I've had to basically tear my studio apart and rebuild it. Recording has been a breeze.
As for lyrics and meanings, Shannon is exploring the ways that people generally tend to approach life and, I think, she's taking a few loving jabs at me in regard to relationships and human interaction.
What is your latest news with the band?
Hmmm.... we're working on a new album and have been playing live a bit more frequently.
Where do you hope to be in 5 years with your band?
In five years we'll probably be about to release our 6th or 7th album. I don't care about fame - I want to keep making music and keep the circle growing ever wider over time. We're in it for the long haul.
How are people currently reacting to your music?
o far its been largely disbelief. People are usually really surprised that a band like us even exists. I hear "I don't usually like electronic music, but I love you guys" quite a bit - especially from the indie kids. The handful of people who have heard some of the new songs have been in complete shock and awe.
What would be the top 3 reasons for listening to your music?
What are the top 3 reasons for listening to any music? To be inspired? Entertained? Eternal is probably the best dance record you'll ever own. The next album won't be a dance record per se, though you *can* dance to it, and it'll be much cooler than Eternal.
What is your best experience as a band?
This may sound insane, but every time we sell a cd. I take it very seriously and rather personally.
GC What is your worst experience as a band?
Being in a band is full of annoying bullshit that you constantly have to deal with and it never stops. The joy of creating, inspiring and being inspired greatly outweighs that, so I can't complain. Every time we've done an "industrial" or "fetish" show in the U.S., it has been a big smelly shitbomb and I don't want to do anything like that again. Its an electropop or indie pop show or nothing as far as america is concerned.
GC:What is most important to you in your band?
Writing great songs. If I don't feel, as a music fan, that I'd run out and buy our cds because the music completely blows me away, I wouldn't do it at all.
GC: Do you have a personal favorite song?
Ha ha, yeah I do. Its unfinished and untitled right now though. If I had to pick one that's been released, it'd be the title track "Eternal".
What was the hardest song to write and why?
"Empire of Sleep" - a new track that will be on the next album and one we've been playing live. Its a hard-hitting electropop song, catchy as hell, that also happens to be the most avant garde piece of music that we've worked on to date. It rotates from being tonal to atonal, switches keys, and the instrumental break is in a minor mode. Shannon plays guitar on this one as does the new guy. We still don't have the instrumental break completely finished. It sounds deceptively simple and natural to the listener and rather insane to the trained ear. We really want to do this song justice, so we've all locked horns on it a bit. Heh.
GC: What do you think of the current gothic/ EBM/ Industrial/ noise/ synthpop etc scence today?
Its shitty, but showing signs of getting better. I thing the whole electroclash thing helped. Most goth/industrial/whatever bands wouldn't know a good song if it jumped out and bit them on the face.
GC: What music do you currently listen to?
Personally, I listen to a wide variety of music from Os Mutantes to the Smiths to Depeche Mode to Modest Mouse. If its good, its good. I mean, the Beatles were an awesome band. The newer schools of mainstream country are pure shit. Most top 40 right now is pure shit too. Poop soup. Outkast were a blessing for the mainstream music fans. They had almost nothing until The Love Below came out. To think that Duran Duran, a really awesome band, were once considered top 40 bubblegum pop. When you think of top 40 bubblegum now, the closest thing to the quality of classic Duran Duran or Madonna is Outkast. Fischerspooner have some good singles. Too bad they were unable to crack the mainstream.
GC: How do you keep changing your music from album to album or plan to change it?
I think that the songwriting has improved from album to album and we're getting closer to our true vision of what we set out to do. Eternal is ironic, because we strayed a bit from what we envision ourselves as and yet our songwriting improved dramatically from Priestess. I'm very proud of the songs on Eternal and Priestess has some good tracks too - I'm still extremely fond of "Reverie", for example.
Still, we never set out to be a electronic dance band and we got a bit sidetracked with the style presented on Eternal. We were all adjusting to each other creatively. The new album will have a lot more of a new wave meets urban electro feel to it.
In addition to that, we've improved our gear dramatically since Priestess. Priestess was done with the barebones minimum. And as we have gone along, I've developed as a producer. Eternal's production quality is pretty close to my ideal. I'm a lot closer to my ideal now than on Eternal.
GC: What kind of recording environment do you have?
I set up a studio in one of the bedrooms in my apartment. The apartment is right on the Hillsborough river, across the street from a wilderness park. We look outside and see water and trees and animals. Its nice. In the studio, things are set up ina cozy manner and the rest of the house is set up so that you can have some semblance of privacy in the studio if need be. We're pretty laid back, for the most part.
GC:How long did you spend on your latest effort?
Eternal took a little under a year. The album we're working on now will probably take abut a year and a half overall to complete. We're still months away.
GC: What is the hardest thing about being in a band for this genre?
For us, we had to learn to trust in presenting ourselves for what we truly are. We're an electropop band. As recently as 2 years ago, "pop" was an extremely dirty word, so we shied away from using it and the unfortunate result is that people have used the wrong descriptors so much, that they have stuck a little bit. We're making every effort now to "unstick" the inaccuracies a bit.
As the genre is concerned, a lot of people are still apprehensive about synthesizers and big beats. Usually when these people hear us, they are surprised because they don't expect the songs to be as good as they are. For me, its all about songs. The instrumentation isn't really relevant, though it may determine what I listen to in any particular mood.
GC: Feel free to do any shameless self promotion here of you band, now is your turn to talk about anything you want about your band, ideas, or life in the band.
I think I've been shameless enough. Heh. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ Butterfly Messiah http://www.butterflymessiah.com ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
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