Monday, November 29, 2010

Interview with Bottlesmoker: Free Music, Furry Animals, & Fiddling With Toy Instruments


Photo by Decky Arrizal

Bottlesmoker is an Indonesian electronic pop reminiscent of Holy Fuck, if they were replaced with furry woodland animals (I mentioned this to the band). Their two albums (both available for free download) - Slow Mo Smile and Before Circus Over - exude a cheerful charm and electrical folksiness you'd expect if James Yuill and The Boy Least Likely To combined forces and decided not to sing. Their music is almost begging to be called electronic twee, with their use of toy instruments and customised music-makers facilitating in the creation of their wonderfully unique, brilliantly crafted sound.

The duo have agreed to be interviewed for the blog, and I feel excited to have them here. I'm a massive fan, and you can be a fan too on Facebook HERE. Follow Bottlesmoker on Twitter, along with their two members, Angkuy and Nobie.

J: First of all, why the name Bottlesmoker?

B:Most of the people think the name Bottlesmoker has to do with drugs or anything to do with alcohol. Frankly speaking, Bottlesmoker has no philosophy like that and it has nothing to do with drugs nor alcohol.

When we were cleaning files on our laptop, we had to rename every file differently in each document. While doing that, we often hung out in the room, composing tunes and songs or playing games while smoking. We treated bottled soft drinks as ashtrays. Without any hesitation, we named all the file folders as Bottlesmoker. And smokers we are both.

J: What's the inspiration for using all these toy instruments in your music? And what or who is your inspiration for making music overall?

B: At the beginning we wanted to prove to and for the electro music scene in Indonesia, that making electro music does not need expensive brands or high-tech gadgets. With a bias for toy instruments, nothing was in our way. Inspiration flowed using these toy instruments, and that's how it grew. While we're composing songs, we feel more comfortable with the smell of toys and kids' stuff such as cartoons, robots, toy cars, games and such. So we felt more and more confident composing songs from these toy instruments. We also get musically inspired by people we listen to, like Lullatone, I Am Robot And Proud, Shugo Tokumaro and Tidy Kids.

J: You've already released two great albums, Slow Mo Smile and Before Circus Over. Is there plans for a third album?

B: We will be releasing our third album in 2011, although we haven't decided on a specific date yet. One thing that's for sure though is that we will be releasing an EP in January 2011 as the opening for our third album.

J: To me, your music sounds like the music of the band Holy Fuck as performed by forest animals. What would you describe your sound as?

B:Yeah! Holy Fuck is one of our most favorite bands! We always get ideas from their rooting equipment, they're geniuses.

Okay, we would describe our sound as peaceful, joyful, of prosperity, and sometimes of depression. Everything involves passion and the personal. So it might sound too complicated in hedonistic parties, but it blends well with the kind of atmosphere you'd have in beaches, zoos, parks, rooftops, etc.

Holy Fuck - Lovely Allen (Live)

J: Coming back to forest animals, why do the both of you wear furry animal snow caps at shows?

B: It’s funny! When we got the idea to wear furry animal snow caps, it was because we truly love animals! We love the sound of animals. And we want to create a show that suits us and by wearing them it helps us to be more confident in our musical characters.

J: Who does the art for your album covers, t-shirts, etc? They look brilliant.

B: The best part in the Bottlesmoker experience, are the collaborations! We are glad to collaborate with anyone who is open and free. They are our friends. Every album was designed by different people, including t-shirts too. They are so brilliant! And we will keep doing these collaborations, always!

J: Do the both of you share the same musical interests? Or is Bottlesmoker a result of two divergent tastes combining together?

B:Well, Angkuy's interests lies in punk and metal music. Way back when he used to be in a black metal band and then that turned to a street punk band. In high school Angkuy got introduced to Britpop by his brother. To this day Angkuy still likes Britpop music. As for Nobie, his preference lies with grunge. He'#s a loyal grunge fan. He owns everything that involves grunge. Books, anything. To be honest, how those musical influences create tunes and beats that we have in Bottlesmoker now, only God knows how and why. Hahahaha!

J: Now you seem very proud to be Indonesians. How do you think this shows in your music or your shows?

B: Of course it shows in that it makes us believe in ourselves more. It helps with our self-confidence. The public in our country are starting to notice and observe us, slowly accepting our talents and then supporting us. Knowing this, it affects our music, giving us more confidence to explore.

Photo by Yulius Iskandar

J: Who sings on your cover of Depeche Mode's Enjoy The Silence? How big an influence has Depeche Mode has on your music?

B: He’s Batman a.k.a Henry Foundation, and he is in Goodnight Electric. Man, Depeche Mode is our roots! Their music is always floating in our mind

J: Any future upcoming collaborations in the pipeline? Possibly with another Southeast Asian musician?

B:Yeah of course! With Space Gambus Experiment from Malaysia, they’re awesome!

J: How did you two first meet? And how long after was Bottlesmoker or its first incarnation formed?

B: In 2003 we were in the same class at campus, and we were studying broadcasting. Since then we've been good friends. Wherever, whenever, it's always the both of us, doing work, doing crazy things together. At the end of 2005, we decided to write songs together and we have been doing almost everything with Bottlesmoker. We are in love. LOL

J: Do any of you play the more conventional instruments (guitars, drums, etc)?

B: Nope

J: Is there a certain philosophy you both live by? If Bottlesmoker had a slogan, what would it be?
B: We just wanna share, share, share and share the music!.. Yeah, we have a slogan, it’s “free + music + share = love”

J: What's the best thing about being in Bottlesmoker?

B: The best thing is when others feel positive listening to our music. People enjoy our music and by going on road tours we meet new friends which creates a healthy family relationship and atmosphere. We love to share!

J: Are there any bands that you'd recommend to people who like the Bottlesmoker sound?

B:Sure! Now we are listening to Everyday Sight, we feel he is a musician which has succeeded in creating great sounds and an atmosphere almost similar to ours.

J: What do you hope to achieve with Bottlesmoker in 5 years time?

B: To tour in Europe and America and stay in Iceland. And getting signed by our favorite labels, Morr music and Fatcat Records.

Bottlesmoker - Slow Mo Smile (Taken from their first album Slow Mo Smile)

Signing out

Over and out