by Shanell Dupras
Jazz trio BADBADNOTGOOD were scheduled to play Jazz Fest in 2012 shortly after the release of their new album on April 3, 2012, BBNG2, which mainly features covers of artists like Odd Future, James Blake, and even My Bloody Valentine. Stylus got a hold of Alex Sowinski, the drummer/sampler, and Chester Hansen, the bassist, for an interview. Shortly before our June/July 2012 issue went to press, BBNG cancelled a number of their Canadian summer dates. We’re happy that they’re able to make Jazz Fest this year. Here is our long lost BADBADNOTGOOD feature from 2012.
Stylus: Tell me about how BADBADNOTGOOD came to be.
Chester Hansen: We all met like last spring and we all went to music school, so we sort of bonded over our love of hip-hop and just hung out and jammed. Pretty much the first time I met Matt we started playing and it sounded cool.
Alex Sowinski: I met Matt ‘cause I had a class with him and we started talking about music and we both realized that we liked a lot of the same music and we’d been to the same shows in the past year and stuff. Then we started jamming and I met Chester doing some funny off projects that he was playing bass for and we just started playing and filmed a video, and recorded an album and things just sort of started taking off.
Stylus: How would you describe yourselves?
CH: It’s kind of a big melting pot of all of our different influences. Definitely a heavy jazz influence in the sense that we use a lot of improvisation and the forms are never quite ironed out. But we also take equally from the whole style of punk, and electronic, and beat music, and stuff like that.
AS: It’s just that kind of blend of genres and along with the musical influences, it’s also personality influences.
Stylus: On your new album BBNG2, you guys do covers from a wide range of genres. What’s the process for re-arranging these songs to your more jazz sounding tracks?
AS: It just comes down to what we’re listening to, what we’re liking, what obviously adapts into our musical situation, but also what we think would just be game changing. We’re like “No one’s ever done this before so, cool.” Matt is a big My Bloody Valentine fan and he got us into their music and we’re like “Hell yeah, we’re gonna do some fucking crazy shoe gaze cover that would never really see jazz solos or harmonies.”
Stylus: On your Bandcamp page, you guys explain, “No one above the age of 21 was involved in the making of this album.” Why didn’t you guys want that kind of help?
CH: Well it wasn’t meant to be like a cocky statement or anything. Basically we made the album with our friends. Our friend Matt works at a studio (Revolutions) so he hooked us up with the recording time and engineered the session. Basically everything that went into the album was a product of our group of friends. The album cover was our friend Connor.
AS: People are like “Oh you put a video on the internet.” It was almost not to shut people up, but to show that we’re actually doing some work here. Matt knows mastering techniques and how to use 1600 bit EQs unlike anyone else that I know, and better than most of the professionals in the fucking business. So it was more of a “We’re just doing it ourselves and other people should go try and learn and go figure out how to do certain things and do it themselves,” just to sort of push the whole DIY movement.
Stylus: I’ve heard some reviewers say that you guys reject old jazz traditions. How do you guys think, and how do other musicians think about your music?
AS: It’s not that we have any disrespect towards old jazz traditions. We obviously love old jazz recordings and all the special eras of music that have come from it. It’s more just the world of jazz that it sits in now. People are just trying to recreate old things and people aren’t trying to push boundaries, and people aren’t doing things that we feel are still relevant. Just being in school we saw that they just teach you one era of jazz and people only start to play that kind of thing. And also that people in the jazz world don’t seem to be as creative with their production or their album covers that we’ve seen so much with electronic music and hip-hop music. That’s where the whole indifference with jazz kind of sits.
Stylus: When it comes to Jazz Fest, are there any performers that you would say best fit what you guys are up to? Or would you consider yourselves to be completely different from the rest of the line-up this year?
AS: I’d say we’re probably a little bit of a stand out in terms of what we’re doing. I mean a lot of them are all in the same kind of realm. I’m pretty sure Janelle Monae is kind of like R&B and funky stuff and that’s what we love to incorporate into our music. And Booker T is like instrumental, like solo stuff. I wouldn’t say we’re totally different, but I’d say we bring like a young, fresh look to what a lot of artists in the Jazz Fest scene might be doing. But we wouldn’t say we’re totally different in any unique, special way.
Stylus: What should our readers expect to see when they go see your show for Jazz Fest this year?
AS: It’s definitely going to be interesting, I hope people enjoy it. We’re just there to have fun and make good music but I think there should be some surprises. There should be some new material by the time we roll around to Winnipeg. There’s going to be solos, there’s going to be moments of crazy, loud, fast music. And we’re gonna try to bring the music everywhere and have a shit ton of fun.
Stylus: What are your plans for the rest of 2012?
AS: A lot more projects and collaborations, and making beats, and making a shit ton of music, and playing some shows, and having fun.
BADBADNOTGOOD are (finally) scheduled to play on Wednesday, June 19th, 2012 at The Pyramid Cabaret (176 Fort).