“Happy/Sad Place Somehow”: 7 Questions with Tangerine

Bumbershoot 2014 was the first time I saw Tangerine perform live. I had heard a few songs and wanted to check them out. My initial thoughts from seeing them perform were their sound is a lot of fun, this is a pretty sizeable crowd for a local band at Bumbershoot, and it’s hard not to enjoy this performance. The sound reminded me of pop music you would hear in a sitcom that would air in the post “TGIF” generation. Like a sitcom that would have the Lawrence brothers or a movie with Rachel Leigh Cook.

IMG_4399Tangerine performing at Bumbershoot 2014

In the years that followed, I picked up their EPs “Behemoth!”, “Sugar Teeth” and “Radical Blossom”, and would try to catch one of their shows around town. I remember catching their set at an exclusive Upstream Music Festival and Summit preview party, and also catching the band’s farewell concert when they relocated to Los Angeles. On February 7th, with a brand new EP “White Dove”, Tangerine is set to make their Seattle return. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to ask a few questions to band members, Marika Justad, Miro Justad, and Toby Kuhn.

First and foremost welcome back to Seattle!
I read an interview for Grunge and Art magazine, where as a band you explained that certain bands and genres inspired your sound, but you also mentioned being inspired by movies and television shows, specifically you mentioned the films of Baz Luhrmann (“Romeo + Juliet”). I like the idea of a form of art and entertainment especially one focused on the visual element, inspiring the creation of another form of art and entertainment.
1.) What other films and television shows inspire you currently, and would you mind elaborating how they inspire your sound?

Marika: I’m so glad you picked up on those influences of ours! I have a feeling that a lot of musicians are inspired by so much more than just music. The music you make is sort of like this representation of how you experience the world in all its complexity, so of course all kinds of things find their way into our sound. We’re getting ready to release a new song on February 8th called CHAINS, that has this dark, dreamy, romantic feeling which was inspired by gothic romance novels like Jane Eyre (a favorite of Miro’s and mine that we’ve read many times), plus slightly trashier romance novels we’ve enjoyed that shall remain nameless. We tried to evoke that feeling in the visuals we created to go with the song. That’s just one example but I’m sure there’s more.

In past interviews, you mentioned how as a band you would love to curate the soundtrack for a film or television show, and how some of your songs were made with that possible intention in mind.
2.) Is there a regular storyline that you picture your music being used or you would hope they were used for (for example: A Cosmic Romance, A Modern Day Western, A Teen Road Trip Flick, etc.)?

Marika: One hundred percent we would love for our song Lake City (from our last EP, White Dove) to be in the sequel to Netflix’s “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before”. We’re all suckers for a good classic teen movie- Footloose, Pretty in Pink, Empire Records, Can’t Hardly Wait, 10 Things I Hate About You, etc. (fuck 16 Candles, no matter what anyone says). I think a lot of our songs would be good during like that moment in every TV drama where they do a cheesy montage of all the characters as they wander around pondering the meaning of life. Or maybe our songs would be perfect for the ending of a movie when somebody’s driving off into the sunset, and it’s a little happy and a little sad at the same time. All of our music seems to end up in that happy/sad place somehow.

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3.) Another thing I picked up from reading past interviews was a love for the Sci-Fi genre. What are some must see titles (film, television, teleplay, radio show, podcast, etc.) that you would recommend? (If you name a show, is there a specific episode that is must see?)

Marika: Buffy The Vampire Slayer! The title of our song “Monster Of The Week” comes from the TV concept of the same name and is inspired by Buffy. There’s an episode in season four called “HUSH” that has almost zero dialogue and it’s just weird and fun and completely brilliant.
Miro: The Arrival was one of the more recent science fiction movies that I have seen which really moved me because it teaches about having compassion for the unknown. The soundtrack really beautiful and abstract so I highly recommend checking that out!
Toby: Taken- It’s a miniseries presented by Steven Spielberg that takes place over half a century and focuses on multiple generations of families’ experiences with aliens. Very cool show, the score is awesome too, their theme song has been stuck in my head for years!

(These next 3 questions were provided by my last interview Alaia from the band Tres Leches.)
4.) From your last live performance, what’s one reaction from the audience that stood out to you and how do you perceive that reaction?

Marika: Our last show was for FOMO FEST at the Echo- there was one guy in particular who was dancing in the front giving it his all the entire set that stood out to all of us!

5.) What’s one thing you want to do that you’re not doing right now and why aren’t you doing it?

Miro: I’ve always wanted to tour Asia with TANGERINE! Marika and I are Korean American so performing in Korea is a shared dream of ours. It’s not in our cards for the immediate future as we are touring the West Coast and writing music in LA but hoping that we can make that work soon!
Toby: I’d love to learn to speak Italian, I’ve got family in Naples and every time I visit I deeply regret not having a greater understanding of the language. There are so many things I like to do when I get a spare moment I just haven’t committed to it yet!
Marika: I want to be able to run 5 miles! I can only run 2 at the moment….but I’m working on it.

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6.) What’s something that’s not tangible that is vital?

Miro: A constant sense of curiosity. I feel like there was a moment in my late teens and early twenties where I stopped questioning everything around me and lost a sense of awe for the natural world. The more curious I am the happier I have found.
Toby: Optimism. I try to be an optimistic person, for myself and the band, but also in terms of giving people the benefit of the doubt- trusting people, maybe too much haha. It’s certainly been vital to my well being.
Marika: There’s a Maya Angelou quote that is something along the lines of “people don’t remember what you said but they’ll remember how you made them feel” that’s always resonated with me. This question brings that to mind!

As a final question, as a band that started in Seattle, developed in this market, and left, do you have any advice for Seattle artists trying to expand beyond the Seattle music scene?

Miro: My advice would be to really take advantage of the supportive scene in Seattle and the surrounding areas because a strong base will carry you further in the long run even if you decide to leave.

(If you thought this band sounded as fun as they were to interview, be sure to support!  Tangerine will be performing live at Chop Suey, Thursday February 7th with Cumulus, and Emma Lee Toyoda, presale $10.  Listen to their music on most platforms, and be sure to check out their latest EP, “White Dove”, available now.)

10 Questions with Alaia (Tres Leches and AlAIA)

It’s 8:35pm. Monday night at Rhein Haus Seattle on Capitol Hill. It’s Rhein Haus’ weekly “Meat Raffle Monday”. Starting at 7:30pm and ending at 9:30pm, two raffle tickets are drawn every half hour. Each ticket costs $1. With each raffle win, the winner selects a premium meat (steak, a half chicken, etc.) and also a set of in house made sausages. It was mid way through this event that my interview with Alaia began.

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Alaia to me has always been a fascinating member of the Seattle music scene. I would see her name pop up as a camera operator on a KEXP Live video. I would read an article about one of her music projects (Tres Leches, and AlAIA) in a local paper or magazine. I would catch one of her shows, or even just see her in attendance at a local show.

You would think a person who has exposed themselves to this much music or has remained this active in the local scene would have a high opinion of themselves in terms of musical taste but regarding Alaia that could be further from the truth. If there is anything I can say from the amount of time I’ve known Alaia, she is more than happy to not only talk about music but also explore what makes a person interested in music. It’s from this fascination of the other, and this backdrop of a meat raffle at Rhein Haus, that I decided now was a good time to ask Alaia these 10 questions…

Thanks again for doing this:
1.) I’ve enjoyed the Phonic Earth series on Youtube (Alaia has an ongoing mini series of videos that explores how music connects us). How did you select the topics for each video?

The topics are general interest topics connecting human lines that I found to be most relatable through music. Some people find connectors through food or visual art. For me the most accessible medium is music. There’s only so much we understand about the human brain and art and music connects us in these intangible ways. I was talking to a person who had a parallel experience of art looking at Petroglyphs in Arizona as I did, looking at Monet’s “Water Lilies”. We were both put on a surreal plain by a piece of the world represented in an unfamiliar way. The human mind has unknown brilliance and music can connect us to this unknown.

Wow. Okay. Going off the creation of videos and their connection to music…
2.) You’re a videographer for KEXP. Of the performances you’ve seen, which one was a must see and who was your personal favorite?

Must see is definitely Floating Points. It’s jazz that puts you… It’s like future jazz. A soundtrack to a future where everyone gets raw. It’s very improvisational and very rooted in jazz. There’s this kind of Wurlitzer that sounds like they put it through a teleportation device. There’s like 7 people in this group and this also pushed us to be more creative in the way we filmed the session in order to incorporate everything that was going on. Another one we shot was Boogarins. I love Dinho’s voice. Dinho’s so nice. Whenever Boogarins comes to town Dinho always give me a list of Brazilian bands to listen to. He just turns me on to such great music my favorite being Jupiter Apple. He’s a person you just feel light around. He just has the best smile and his voice is fucking amazing. I don’t think you can beat that Brazilian psych-jazz style.

So I should definitely check these out? (haha)

Yeah and you can. (haha)

3.) I read somewhere you are a fan of pinball? Best Machine?

Yeah! There’s a cool machine over at Jupiter Bar in Seattle. It’s an older kind of bootleg Baseball machine. There are lights around the board showing you where to hit the ball to get a single or a double or whatever and also if you get a home run, you get baseball card.

Wait. You get a baseball card? (haha)

Yeah an actual baseball card comes out of the side! I like the Monster Mash, too. It might be the knock off Monster Bash. Jupiter bar is probably the best place for pinball in Seattle.

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4.) I read a recent interview you had done for KEXP. I like your view about having compassion for person’s situation and the view that it’s survived natural selection. That compassion is a powerful tool, is a profound viewpoint. Can you expand on that? Like what shaped that mentality?

You kind of asked me a meditative question, where I have to think about how did I get to this point? I don’t know. I think people will use history and science to shape any narrative they want. If you stop and take a look around you- well, I have a lot of really great people in my life that don’t have to be as great as they are. They have every reason to not treat people with the kindness that they do, they have every reason to treat people bad, yet there’s something in them where they don’t want to do that. That doesn’t serve them. That doesn’t serve them at their core. They’re not the people who hurt them. If you view things through natural selection some people think everything is cruel. Survival of the fittest, only the best can survive. There’s that view, but somehow there’s also compassion existing. I don’t know if there is a “why”, but there is an “is”. That is just the way that it is, in that compassion has survived.

You can see it in humans, but you could also see it in animals. When they’re fed and they have their resources, you’ll see these videos where a cat is helping a bird. The cat has its resources and since it has it’s resources it doesn’t have a reliance on those to survive. It demonstrates that once you have access to those resources, it doesn’t have to succumb to that cycle of the need to survive. Like once you have that access you have time to help and time to think. When you are able to have your resources you are able to expand on the mind you have, and a lot of people when they’re not terrified for their own life, I think a lot of people will gravitate towards helping others. A lot of people want to help, and in that way they find meaning. I think it’s what keeps some people around even. I think it’s what makes life worth while for some people.

20171031_2127085.) You and your band’s music videos, on stage presences, and film styles are fairly unique. What helped shape that style?

(Small break as they call out the last meat raffle tickets.)

We do everything ourselves. We make our visual performance art ourselves. We each have general interest about learning about the world. We each are interested in the worlds in ourselves. Ulises is very interested in science and quantum theory, and his experience with immigration also influences his art. It’s not all of what he’s about, he’s an artist with a lot of views and he has to do a lot of reflection on himself to find out what that means to him. We’re all just interested in learning. The heart performance art during the Halloween show for example was all about learning about myself. That was during a time in my life where found myself alone which I wasn’t used to. I was always scared of being by myself and being able to do it shows a way that I am trying to overcome that fear. Zander showed me a lot about literature and videos and really helped me cope with being alone. I was very afraid of being alone. Those thoughts of “You’re not enough”, “You have nothing to say”, “You have nothing interesting to put out there”…that’s not true. That’s never true. There’s so much that could be said and done. So I know Zander is very interested in learning too because he’s taught me things. He’s very interested in looking into himself as an individual as well. This was a long way of saying we’re all interested in learning.

6.) I saw the music video for “What are you doing?”. What’s the coolest thing I can do in Seattle if I had only one day in Seattle?

I really like going to the Northwest African-American Museum and also San Fernando Peruvian Roasted Chicken Shop. That museum is a terrific way to learn about the Northwest and when you get done you can walk through the park. Judkins park. You can learn so much at the museum, then as you meditate on what you’ve learned, you can walk down this beautiful park, and you’ll end up at one of the greatest places to have roasted chicken in Seattle.

What’s the best thing to order there?

I almost don’t want to tell people about this place, but I want them to stay in Seattle, so I hope they get all the business they can. Get the Arroz con Mariscos. That’s my favorite thing, but for sure try the chicken. The green sauce is really good.

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7.) What band(s) should I be listening to now?

Benjamin Clementine is the person I always tell people is the best.

(A freind interrupts to offer us a portion of a giant pretzel.)

Elaborating on Benjamin Clementine. I don’t think I know of another current artist that created another genre. He’s very inspired by Chopin and Debussy, but with a kind of Brit Rock feel but it’s different stylistically in that it’s not always a completely Westernized song structure. He just ascends to this other place and will maybe reference that place later in the song, but never go back to that place. He’s so good at melody, but each piece makes you feel like you’re at home and you don’t realize this song has no chorus (or at least I can’t place the chorus). He also has great subjects and experiences which he translates to his work. His music really puts me at ease. Lyrically he’s incredible and his story is something you should read into. He’s the most inspirational person I’ve ever one met, and two just that I’ve ever listened to. I work around music. Like I’m around music all the time and I’ve never been more shook than when I’ve met Benjamin Clementine.

These questions are from my last interview Bree McKenna:

8.) Who is the cutest member of the band Hanson?

Oh no what if you don’t know who that band is? I can look them up (haha)
Yeah.

(Googling Hanson and watching music video for MMMBop. There was some surprise that a guy was the lead singer for MMMBop. After we found a picture of them when they were in their prime…)
I think Bree has to define what cute is and that’s my response to that. (haha)

9.) What TV show are you binge watching right now?

There’s a couple. Right now I’m watching Kitchen Nightmares with Gordon Ramsey. Pretty much anything with Gordon Ramsey. I almost feel like I’m doing an intensive on Gordon Ramsey. Like I’m watching Hell’s Kitchen, then Kitchen Nightmares, Master Chef, and even Junior Master Chef. I think it’s really funny watching him blow up. Like it’s so far from anything I can express. It’s so interesting. It’s so far from who I am, how I’d treat people and what I’d like to be around. It’s interesting watching him tear down the owners who treat their staff like shit though. Forcing them into a position where they have to be held accountable. I’m interested in these interactions because it’s such a different culture from what I am used to.

Alright and Bree’s last question…

Wait can I throw this in?

Sure.

I also like Kim’s Convenience. I think it’s a Netflix show. It’s a family show where the character’s are very relatable. I think the writing’s really good and it makes me laugh a lot.

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10.) Describe your dream stage outfit?

There are some things that come to mind but I want to be sure I’m intentional about it, and not just go right to let’s Paul McCartney this sh… (haha)

(haha) I know right. Let’s Lady Gaga this one.

Fire and meat everywhere! (haha)

I wanna do like Madonna and roll on stage in a wedding gown.

I really feel like…okay, I saw Angels in America in New York and the way they did the angel is so amazing. She looks like- she’s not goth, but she’s very Tim Burton-esque. Just ghost white, frizzy hair, but tattered and torn and wings are just raven wings, but there’s still a bit of color. Like I think she was wearing a body suit underneath that was rainbow. I really like that. The way they did it, the wings were puppets, but I really think it would be cool if the wings were attached to you so you could fly into the audience. So then you could fly to people and sing to them. You could demand their attention like if they’re on their phones. If it’s a small space then it’s like an ice breaker, but if it’s a big space then it’s a connector to everyone, not just the front. Like the balcony. There’s so many times a performer will be like, “How are the poor people in the balcony doing? haha. Sorry you couldn’t afford to be down here.”. You could just fly up there. You could piss a bunch of people off and just fly up there and just switch perspectives of the show.

No joke I went to a Taylor Swift show. A friend offered me tickets, and I thought why not?

Sure, that’s why you went. (haha)

Okay fine, I’m a Taylor Swift fan and wanted to go see her live. (haha) Mid show she’s performing on the main stage. All of a sudden there’s a basket that came down on the stage. Then there were what looked like platforms positioned furthest away from the main stage and in front of people near the back of the stadium. She got in the basket, it took her up, she landed on these platforms on the far end of the stadium, and then continued the show for about 3 or 4 songs on those platforms. (haha) It’s what you described, these people paid a lot of money to be right up front and be next to the stage, and Taylor got in a basket and took the show to people on the other end of the stadium. (haha)

(haha) I like that. I like that a lot. There you go. This goes back to the idea that people have way more in common than you think. I would think Taylor Swift and I have nothing in common but hey, there you go. We both want to fly across a stadium and engage as much of the audience as we can.

 

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(You can catch Alaia and Tres Leches at Mercer and Summit Block Party next Saturday at the Cove stage from 2:!5 to 2:45pm. Thanks Again Alaia!)

7 Questions with Bree McKenna

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It’s 1:12p in the afternoon at Arcaro Boxing Gym. The air in the room is heavy after another hard workout.

Arcaro Boxing Gym is one of my favorite gyms in Seattle. The welcoming “barbershop”-style atmosphere attracts people from all walks of life. Around the room you’ll see corporate analysts mingling with firemen, helicopter pilots, and college students. You’ll see film directors holding mitts for members of the local music scene. You’ll see slam poets doing sit ups alongside restaurant owners. It really is an interesting atmosphere to both learn how to defend yourself, get a great workout, and meet a lot of interesting people.

After a mid day “lunch box” workout, I was sitting with Bree McKenna and Ryan Moon. I met Bree and Ryan at Arcaro Boxing Gym around a year ago. Both perform in local bands. Ryan for the band Turian. While Bree performs with several local bands including Who is She?, Childbirth, and of course, Tacocat.

Bree has always been one of my main motivations for exploring the local music scene. She’s just so down to earth and welcoming. There are times where I’ll see her at a show or we’ll catch each other at the gym and we’ll just chat about music. You would never think, this person played Coachella last year, this person performed on the main stage at Upstream Music Festival a few months ago, or that I saw this person perform at Bumbershoot back in 2012. Nope. She’s always just been Bree, that fun person who can throw a mean right hand, has questions about the last live music event you attended, and is more than happy to talk about the next live show you should check out.

Our workout had just ended. Bree, Ryan, and I were throwing around ideas of great interview gimmicks for this blog, when it hit me, what if I just asked some questions right now? I threw the idea out there to Bree, she smiled, and said, “Sure. Let’s do it.” So with Bree sitting on some seats outside of a boxing ring and myself sitting inside the boxing ring, we began our interview. After hearing the first question, Ryan looked at us and said, “I have to go, but this sounds like something I’ll want to read later.” We laughed, and he made his way out.

Right off the bat, I asked a question that had been on my mind for a while…

1.) I have to ask, what was with the Dave Mustaine article?

(haha) Well Vice had a series of articles about smaller musicians and their encounters with bigger musicians. The person who was organizing the series didn’t put in the introduction that the article was fiction and eventually it just got around. I didn’t want people to be disappointed especially big Metallica fans, so when people ask me about it I usually tell them I don’t want to talk about it.

Why’d you pick Dave? I mean the article was well written and I wouldn’t have been able to tell it was fake if it wasn’t for your Wikipedia page.

(haha) Yeah. We just look similar.

It’s the hair.

Yeah (haha)

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2.) A theme for most of the bands I’ve seen you perform in has been feminism and strong feminist ideals.

Yes.

However, another theme I noticed was a love for the 90’s.

Yeah, it’s a way for me to keep in touch with my teen self.

Without an explantion, what are three things from the 90’s that help motivate that love and attitude today?

Grunge, 10 Things I Hate About You, and Josie and the Pussycats (the film)

3.) Where’d the idea for Witch Chat come from (for those who don’t know Bree does an ongoing Insta-story feature called Witch Chat, which involve moments and stories told while participants wear witch hats)?

My freind had bought a bunch of witch hats online. We took a stack on tour and it just seemed natural. This was also around the same time Insta-stories were becoming a thing.

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4.) Speaking about hats and fashion, I love your fashion sense.

Thanks!

Is there any style or fashion motif you wouldn’t by any means try?

Normcore (haha)

Alright. Asked and answered (haha).

5.) Of the people I’ve met in the local music scene, you seem like one of the more enthusiastic and welcoming, what makes you so excited about local music?

I work at a club and am around a lot of it. I try to be supportive. There’s a lot of good music.

Do you feel with the rapidly changing neighborhoods, that it’s having an effect on the “Seattle Sound”?

Kind of. People are more angrier about it. It’s more expensive to live in the neighborhoods like Capitol Hill than it used to be, and that’s motivating some of the music, but I kind of think the music is better now than it was when I first started.

We’ve both seen the documentary “Hype”. You can’t say it’s the same neighborhood that you saw in that documentary.

Yeah, but the problems we’re seeing in Seattle, it’s the same thing all across America. Things like Tech Companies and Big Business. Everything is getting expensive and it’s those pressures motivating things. It’s an interesting time to be living in America.

6.) Speaking about Seattle, what’s the coolest thing I can do in Seattle, if I only had one day in Seattle?

That ones tough. Let’s go back to that.

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7.) Alright (haha), and as my last question, what bands should I be listening to right now?

Oh wow. Local bands, I would say The Black Tones and Tres Leches, otherwise Lizzo.

I saw her at last year’s Block Party.

She was here?

Yeah. “Lizzo be eating”. She puts on a great show.

I’m thinking of trying to catch her with St.Vincent. Looks expensive though.

Is that the one with Florence + the Machine, and St.Vincent? With Lizzo on there, that’s a cool lineup.

Yeah, it should be fun.

Going back. What’s the coolest thing I can do in Seattle, if I only had one day in Seattle?

Come boxing at Arcaro boxing! First Class is free. (haha)