Unedited conversations between artist in a productive critique discovering thesis and processes behind the work.
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Jenna Balfe, Dennis Fuller, and Doug Webber
Performance at the Collabo 5 exhibition
FULLER: Hi there friend
BALFE: So glad you could join me here to talk about our new band Donzii
FULLER: I love this room
people say it reminds them of the north east
BALFE: The living room of your parents house, yes. Me too.
But back to what we are talking about.
This iteration of the project we have with Doug was enlightening for me.
FULLER: ya, donzii kind of reminds me of, like, a branch on a tree that is many
different projects we are working on.
def bigger than a twig.
BALFE: It's true. Last year when we started Capri SNC that only performed once I had a feeling that there was going to be a future for the project despite the fact that we were moving to NYC after only one performance.
FULLER: yea, that night was really fun...the club we played at made a 'no fog machine' rule after that night because we just sat on the button for like 5 minutes haha and then i lost a bunch of cables and a mic.
it was still super fun!
that project was more italo-disco sounding tho, this one has the nyc / 80's influence.
BALFE: This project is special because it was re-born specifically because we were asked to participate in Collabo.
When we decided to use this ensemble for the performance, it meant that we would have to come up with all new songs except for one in less than a month.
FULLER: we didn't even play that old song at collabo tho
BALFE: This forced me to accept whatever it was we came up with and move forward without hesitation.
I was too exhausted because of all the madness that preceded our performance. But anyway...
FULLER: yes, it was a fast-paced creative process this time around, which is great.
you make decisions and you stick with them.
in the digital age we have become accustomed to continuously editing our projects. in many ways this has been a step away from that
BALFE: I agree. It helped me on a philosophical level. I had doubts and insecurities surrounding the fast paced creation of lyrics and melodies.
I wanted to change things after I had done them, but I could not.
The next day, to my surprise I found that I felt proud of the work we had done.
This caused me to reflect on all the times in my life that I have re-done something a million times and in some cases never produced anything because of self doubt.
This project has really shown me the value of just moving forward and continuing to work.
FULLER: my computer is really burning up my thighs right now
BALFE: Is that your way of saying that I am long winded?
FULLER: no comment
BALFE: Being couple in a band is fun!
FULLER: yea we can talk about that. . .
i can tell sometimes when you want to KILL me
like the times when you ask me and Doug a question about the part you just wrote or something and neither of us were paying attention
BALFE: Yeah, those moments were very special. I felt as though my contribution did not matter.
But of course it did.
FULLER: well... thats is because we love everything you do
BALFE: I had to realize that to some degree the way that we create is different.
Good move D
FULLER: relationship dynamics in art are fun
BALFE: I had to just at some point accept that you guys were cool with what I was doing and develop my attitude.
Which was good for me.
FULLER: Yes, i mean, there were moments when what you were singing just wasn't the right vibe at first. and there are a few songs that i started to write that you vetoed right off the bat.
The band has to have a sonic consistency. Doug has all this cool vintage studio gear going on; a lot of 70’s, 80's and 90's stuff that creates a very time specific sound.
For that characteristic smacking-punch drum sound we programmed Liss drum samples on his Akai MPC 60. <Shoutout to goldbaby> then i wrote bass lines that we could vibe with.
when you came on the scene the rhythmic parts were pretty much done and you would tells us if certain songs didn't work.
we scrapped a few of them.
then you lays down lyrical sketches and develops the vocal attitude of the song.
BALFE: Liz Tracy described us as Post-punk in her write up of the Collabo show in the New Times.
A couple of other people also mentioned that. I felt that was the way to sonically respond to the music you guys were writing. Which is interesting, because I thought of the music as being a combo of funk and italo disco.
FULLER: these are just words to describe a thing that only exists through vibrations in the air
BALFE: Thats why I love music so much
It exists in ephemeral world.
FULLER: maybe that is why everyone wants it to be free
because it already is
BALFE: It leaves less of a physical imprint. Which I appreciate very much in our world of excess.
That's a problem.
FULLER: either way, it is super fun to play, and in my opinion, one's music doesn't exist until it has been performed. recordings are valid examples of sound / music but the optimal way to experience a sound is live, particularly with other strangers in public.
BALFE: I also agree.
FULLER: whoa nice
BALFE: For me performance is necessary. It is one of my main valves of expression.
At the collabo show I actually changed some of the lyrics in the songs in response to the crowd.
That was something I did not think I would be able to do, as I am new to being a lead singer... But that magical conversation and energy that can happen with a good audience happened at the Collabo show that night.
I also would like to mention the fact that there was no separation between us and the audience. There was no stage or no lighting. This affected the performance in that I felt completely seen and naked to the audience. There was nowhere to hide.
FULLER: i think this picture sums that up pretty well
Jenna Balfe, Dennis Fuller, and Doug Webber
Performance at the Collabo 5 exhibition
BALFE: you got it bro.
FULLER: i'm very interested to know what things sound like to other people. like, for instance my ears are far more damaged than the average person, and i'm also not standing 10 feet away from myself, so i get paranoid about balance and levels.
i have been performing as a musician for a while so that is the relaxing part for me. i am more relaxed entertaining an audience than i am awkwardly walking around a crowded room. my mind is like, 'here, this your job for 30 minutes. play an instrument, you're good at that.'
we were recording demos last week, before the collabo show, and that was an unusual experience you may want to talk about.
BALFE: Ha. Yes that was. I am not used to recording myself sing and felt I really needed a safe space, however all the buddies came over while we were in session.
We were recording in the Riff Pitt, your studio out in the little room connected to the garage. It was very hot and no ventilation because there were not any screens on the doors or windows. The room is also very small and we had a ton of equipment heating it up like an oven. At the height of this experience there were seven people in this tiny room.
You were all about it, I was having a heart attack, as was Doug and Gus- the engineer a little bit too.
FULLER: i was feeding off the energy.
here are a bunch of my friends in a tiny room
with a bunch of sweltering amps, a really great engineer and friend doing us a huge favor, and there is Magnus (sodamin) cracking open beers in the middle of a recording session.
the look on my friend's face when Magnus yelled something in Norwegian while we were recording was priceless. I don't think he's ever been in that chaotic of a recording situation.
BALFE: ai yai yai
It was good preparation for the show!
FULLER: anyway, at some point you and Doug were like, can you ask your pals to leave because its making us crazy! and they understood, but the vibe was awesome. i think it will translate when we release the songs.
jenna pissed AF about these people
BALFE: ah yes, the bathroom vocal booth
BALFE: with a frog in the toilet.
FULLER: WHOA!! totally forgot about froggy
the engineer went to use the bathroom and there was a tree frog in the toilet!
Tropical paradise man
BALFE: oh my god. What is Donzii?
Maybe that's us. Frogs in a toilet.
We are very much about the present moment.
Which for me works well with my movement and performance art.
FULLER: and we came up with the sweet idea of toilet bowl freshers shaped like tree frogs (don't steal our idea!) i guess that could be a future collabo piece.
BALFE: Yes, the toilet frog...
FULLER: by lysol lol
BALFE: I am working on how to incorporate my movement and performance into Donzii. I feel this first show was taking baby steps towards that end.
FULLER: and i am working on writing more things i can live with and just moving on.
BALFE: But like, I did notice how I had to move the whole time in order to be present on the stage. Which included of course being upside down or just lying on the floor.
I think I need a Brittney Spears mic head set thing
FULLER: cool thats like 150 dollars
BALFE: I had a great time with this performance.
We are all pals.
FULLER: dam we should have done this whole thing just pictures
BALFE: oh brother.
Performing this evening again at Blackbird!
Well, I gotta get going.
You are coming with me right?
FULLER: yea, thanks for listening. this has been therapeutic. if you're reading this at Locust its not too late! we play at midnight and we are gonna try and sneak the fog machine in.