Interviewer: Phill Bruce
BB = Brittany Bindrim (vocals/lyrics)
JC = Jim Cookas (guitar/programming)
Hi I’m Phill from Grave Concerns Ezine. Firstly can I say thank you for agreeing to this interview for us.
Phill : First off can we kick off by telling me who you are? Where in this glorious world do you hail? And can you just tell the folks out there a little about yourself.
BB: I’m Brittany Bindrim and I write the vocals and lyrics.
JC: I’m Jim Cookas and I take care of the background noise.
BB: And we live in Chicago.
JC: We run this little band called I:Scintilla. It’s kind of this electronic-rock hybrid thing.
Phill : So a little bit of background, when did I:Scintilla form and who’s brainchild was it?
JC: I started I:Scintilla in 2003 in Champaign, IL with a couple guys that are unfortunately no longer part of the group. We spent most of that year searching for a vocalist for the songs we were producing. We auditioned several singers, ranging from a folk singer that was on American Idol to a crazy skinhead dude. Luckily we found Brittany via an online ad I had placed.
BB: I guess you could call Jim and I the brainchild[ren] of the band. However, the creative process has become much more of a group effort in recent years.
Phill : And who’s the current line up to I:Scintilla, what do they do and does anyone have any particular talent?
BB: Let’s see. In addition to Jim and I, we have Vince Grech on drums and Brent Leitner on guitar.
JC: No one in the group has any particular talent of any kind. ;) But we are one of the very rare bands where all four members are genuine friends. I hope it lasts for a long time to come.
Phill : And who are your musical influences and why?
BB: My inspiration comes from grunge, industrial, punk, and pop. A few examples include: Skinny Puppy’s multi-layered experimental techniques and Ohgr’s stream of consciousness lyrical style; Tori Amos’ banshee like vocals and poetic words; Bad Religion’s intelligent and politically-minded punk rock, and Soundgarden’s dirty sound and Chris Cornell’s rangy wails. I’m also very inspired by everyday life experiences, fine art, and by literary works and poetry such as Charles Bukowski, Nicole Blackman, and William Burroughs.
JC: Like any music fan, I love many genres. However, as far as influences go, they would mostly come from industrial, post-punk, and metal.
Phill : Let me complement you on your latest album Dying & Falling, now I notice you are signed to a Belgian record label. Why is this and where is your biggest following Europe or America?
JC: I’m glad you like the new album!
We started sniffing out labels in 2005 and drew the attention of a few. We ultimately chose Alfa Matrix because they had the biggest reach and could open the most doors for us at the time. The fact that they were (and remain) an artist-minded label was attractive too.
I really can’t tell where the bigger following is. I think it would be the U.S. because we are based here and have toured much more here. However, our label is based in Europe and we’ve gotten much better press over there. Let’s just call it a draw.
Phill : And what are your views of the current alternative scene? Are there any bands that catch your eye and why?
BB: I think the alternative scene has never been as oversaturated and although there are very few choices on national airwaves, the way music is promoted is obviously undergoing a complete transformation. Bands are able to take marketing and promotion in their own hands through social networking sites, platforms such as Bandcamp, digital sales, etc. Though the scene is polluted with quite a bit of garbage music, there are a lot really great new alternative bands out there and I have faith that good songs will go viral and promote themselves in the right environment. A few underground alt bands that I really dig right now are Mankind is Obsolete, Prometheus Burning, and Dead On TV. I also love Ohgr’s new twisted and insightful album Undeveloped and Killing Joke’s Absolute Dissent.
JC: My two favourite artists lately are Voicians and Studio-X. Both focus on club tracks and both had excellent contributions to Resuscitation, the bonus album for Dying & Falling.
Phill : You’re style is unique and very individual which sets you apart from others. Would you venture to give your style a name and if so what?
BB: We have always followed our instincts and don’t deny our need to explore many creative directions. As a result, we’ve had a bit of trouble categorizing our music to fit neatly into a specific genre.
JC: We’ve always strived for explorations in sounds, styles, and the hybridizations of both, but the common ground we’ve tried to maintain is cohesion and accessibility. We like writing solid songs with energy, intelligent lyrics, and dark/introspective themes. We kind of fall in the grey area of genres, often times being cited as too stompy for rock and too organic for clubs. I’ll take it.
Phill : Without giving too much away is there anything either instrument or program which is significant in giving us that I:Scintilla sound?
JC: One of my favourite bands of all time is Sister Machine Gun. The guy behind it, Chris Randall, started a VST plug-in company several years ago called Audio Damage and has since released many innovative effects and instruments. I’ll just say that his digital stink is all over our recent work.
Phill : I see you have had a close collaboration with Wade Alin since your early days, what is it about Wade’s production skills that help produce your style?
BB: We love Wade. He has really unique production skills that carry a slick, fluid clarity delivering the edge and bite of punk and industrial, which greatly compliment our music. After working with him throughout the years, he understands our vision and knows the sound we are after.
JC: After four releases with Wade, we’re at the point now where there is a lot of trust and respect for each other. Over the years he has really helped push us further with songwriting, sound design, and direction. There have definitely been some heated exchanges during our collaborations, but in the end I think that’s a good thing.
Phill : I notice you have travelled far and wide. Is there anywhere/venue that holds good memories also one that you never really want to go back to, where and why?
BB: We have so many great memories from the road! One of my favourite shows was in 2007 when we performed in Leipzig, Germany at the Wave Gotik Treffen festival. We played at Parkbuhne, a gorgeous outdoor venue surrounded by beautiful flowering trees. It was a surreal setting for our first time in Europe. We were very nervous before our set because the power converter they gave us killed all the electricity in the backstage area. We weren’t able to test our gear before our performance. Luckily we just hit the stage, plugged in our stuff, and everything surprisingly worked. It was a great honor to be part of a festival with a line-ups of so many great bands (Clan of Xymox, Suicide Commando, etc).
JC: I don’t really want to go into negative experiences with cities/venues/promoters, although there have been many. I will, however, name a few of my favourite shows: Dragon*Con (2010), Los Angeles (always fun at Bar Sinister), Atlanta (The Masquerade), Wave Gotik Treffen (2007), Washington, DC (2008, 2010), and Madison, WI (our home away from home).
Phill : Congratulations on your efforts to help the victims of the Japanese earthquake I think what you are doing is amazing. What made you take steps to do such a great thing?
BB: Contributing proceeds from “Dying & Falling” to the Red Cross was the least we could do. The earthquake in Japan was such a catastrophic and heart-breaking event last March; we were compelled to do something to reach out to the victims. It’s really the fans that participated that we should be thanked. We want to express our deepest sympathy to everyone who has been affected by this tragic event.
JC: It’s always inspiring when music can help bring people together to overcome tragedy.
Phill : I was amazed to see that there is now something called Facebook Addiction Syndrome, it’s clear that there are some harsh sides to technology. But on a lighter note how do you think the advent of social networking sites like Facebook, Myspace, etc have affected the music industry as a whole?
BB: Social networking sites are definitely changing the music industry as we know it. In this new world of social networking and sharing, the borders are almost limitless. Social networking sites are bestowing most of the power to discover new music to the fans and their personal networks, as opposed to record labels and mainstream media being the gatekeepers of music. Through these sites, artists have an unfiltered line of communication directly to their fans, giving the artists the power to promote and share their music independently. This direction is making traditional labels unnecessary and changing the way that music is promoted. Though I think labels will wise up and reshape, these sites are forcing labels to follow the fans, not vice-versa. Social media is giving more power to artists and their followers.
JC: It’s a double-edged sword, but in the end it has definitely empowered the independent artist and damaged the record label paradigm. There is no longer a need to seek out a middleman label/distributor to release and sell music. Anyone can affordably produce music and use social networks to share and/or sell it. The songs that appeal best to the Internet’s ears will eventually rise to the top.
I often think about whether it would have been more beneficial if I:Scintilla formed in, say, 1992. There would have been a possibility of signing with a label (indie or major) that actually had a decent budget. There would have been a music audience that spent more money and was (arguably) more dedicated. But in the end, finding success in 1992 was still a rare feat and today, due to social networking, we essentially hold our fate in our hands. Our Facebook/Twitter/etc followers are our lifeblood and if our music speaks to them, then they are the ones that can tell their friends with the click of the mouse. It’s with this framework that we’ve been able to grow our band to the point where we can travel, perform for people that love music, and respond to interviews like this.
Phill : So what’s your overall influence in life at the moment, what makes you smile on a daily basis?
BB: I am in an unusually peaceful place in my life right now and seeping with energy and inspiration. Not sure if it’s the spring season, my health, or a creative kick, but I feel very optimistic about our future endeavours. I’m looking forward to creating new music and art, travelling, and trying to push boundaries as much as I possibly can. Looking ahead makes me smile. I want to experience as much as I possibly can and I am ecstatic to get back on the road again and to work on our next releases.
JC: I’m writing this during a four-week visit to Jerusalem (hence the “favoUrite" and “endeavoUr" spelling corrections). I can’t say that this city is particularly inspiring, but it has given me an exotic location to find some isolation to work on music. I brought a portable studio and have been writing extensively.
Phill : If you could form a band from anyone alive or dead/fact or fiction who would be in the band, what style of music would it be, what would the band be called and where would be their first gig again the place fact or fiction?
BB: I would want to be right here in I:Scintilla with my boys. Okay, but a dream-team line-up of mine would be Paul Barker of ministry on bass, Cevin Key of Skinny Puppy (programming, synth), Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters on drums, and Joan Jett on guitar.
Phill : Well thank you for giving us your time to give Grave Concerns this interview. Is there anything else you would like to add?
BB: Thank you so much for interviewing us Phill, it was a pleasure! We would also like to say thank you to our fans, we love you!
JC: Thank you! And look for our new music video for “Swimmers Can Drown” on YouTube very soon!
Phill : Thank you again, take care
Label : Alfa Matrix
Website : www.iscintilla.com
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