Kodacrome – Brooklyn/San Francisco
It’s sleek, sexy, and dangerous. Really, how often have those adjectives been associated with music? I won’t even bother to count, based on the fact that it’s countless. The difference between most of those previous bands and bi-coastal band Kodacrome is the fact that their sound exudes those adjectives. Whereas I’ve read only reviews of the Strokes as being “sleek, sexy, and dangerous,” they’re actually messy and cluttered (and I’m a Strokes fan), while Kodacrome’s sound is actually a close approximation of the perfect femme fatale riding a motorcycle at 150 mph.
Based on both coasts (Brooklyn, NY and San Francisco, CA) Elissa Pociask (vocals, synth), Ryan Casey (synth, drums, vocals), and Phil Darosa (guitar, vocals) created some of the most spine-tingling electronic music you’re likely to find this year. Lucky for you, the band has just released their debut EP Perla under the pay-what-you-want format.
In an era where it’s common that a band drops an EP of material prematurely only to get their name out there, Kodacrome’s Perla is a different beast. Quite frankly the entire extended-play sounds extraordinarily sure-footed and direct in its intentions. While the production work should absolutely be applauded, Pociask’s vocals straddle the line between icy precision and humane warmth. Even on multiple plays, I’m still unsure as to whether I’m in love with or spooked by Pociask’s delivery. One thing, however, that I am sure of is that she’s got the pipes as well as the lyrical content to back it up.
BANGSTYLE got the opportunity to catch up with Pociask and Casey about the future of the band, the landscapes they hope you envision listening to their jams, and why Liquid Swords is the best hip-hop album ever recorded.
BANGSTYLE: How did Kodacrome come to be? Was it an organic thing, or did one of you seek out like-minded musicians?
Ryan: I knew Elissa through music and always wanted to produce for her, but I was too busy with other projects. Once my band in BK dissolved, we jumped right in and started sharing ideas.
Elissa: At the time, I was recording and performing solo. I figured if I acted on my vision to the best of my ability, I’d attract the right collaborators. I wanted to work with people who were really passionate about the project, and who were excited to bring something new to the table. And who really wanted to do this full-time.
BANGSTYLE: What’s the story behind the band’s name? Is there a personal, specific meaning or something you’d like to keep open to interpretation?
R: Ultimately, it means nothing. It’s a vague reference to Kodachrome Super 8mm film stock.. But mostly it’s a good-looking word, visually. That and pretty much every band I’ve been in has a K in its name.
E: K is just such a great punchy letter, so that was our starting point. We chose the name less for its meaning and more for the percussion of the word. It just tumbles off your tongue.
BANGSTYLE: What’s the songwriting process for the band?
R: It’s pretty straightforward. Elissa writes the songs, and I produce/rearrange and generally mangle them into dark versions of her clever pop songs.
E: I give Ryan these super-compact layered sketches with soft-synths and vocals. He is really good at untangling my mess of ideas and giving it direction and stripping it down to the parts that are actually meaningful.
BANGSTYLE: What are some non-musical influences that inform the band’s sound?
R: Non-musical.. Hmm. Suppose I’ll just brainstorm here: Busby Berkeley, graffiti, Tom Ford, Ron Frike, David Lynch, David Foster Wallace, city living, nerds, balderdash, science!
E: Yes! I am pretty fascinated with the science behind visceral actions, and I think that permeates my writing lyrically and structurally. I have this urge to deconstruct and organize the human psyche, and it all ends up boiling down my musical ideas to these super-choruses. With the occasional unexpected twist, I suppose. Because you can’t really make a formula for everything.
BANGSTYLE: You’ve just released a new EP, Perla, which, by the way, is a very confident-sounding record. Where was it recorded, and what is your fondest memory of the process?
E: Thank you! Phil and Ryan built a studio last fall in Martha’s Vineyard, and this was the first album recorded there. We were literally in the studio the morning after the opening party, which was great because we were able to sustain off of the leftover cheese and crackers!
R: Personally, the moment I enjoyed the most was listening to “The Bug” in the control room after it was mixed. I’m proud of that track – it has so much depth and texture for an electronic song.
BANGSTYLE: Where is your favorite place to hear live music in San Francisco? Why?
E: This might be obvious, but I love Bottom Of The Hill. The staff is just really great, and they care about putting on good shows. But I’ve also stumbled upon some amazing oddball shows at places like Kimo’s (R.I.P.!) and Hemlock, and I think those kind of unplanned, low-pressure discoveries can be the most fun. You go in expecting a quiet Tuesday night and end up waking up the next day in a new band t-shirt clutching a leapfrog trophy. There’s so much understated talent in that city!
BANGSTYLE: You’re exiled to a desert island, but you’re allowed to take five albums with you. What are they and why?
R: 1) Radiohead: OK Computer because I’ll never get tired of listening to it.
2) GZA: Liquid Swords because if I only bring one rap album, this is the best one ever recorded.
3) Blonde Redhead: Melody Of Certain Damaged Lemons because I need a BR album with me, and that one is special to me.
4) PJ Harvey: To Bring You My Love because it’s one of the first albums I fell in love with. And strangely, it has a stranded-on-a-desert- island vibe to it.
5) Modeselektor: hmmm, Happy Birthday I suppose because I need something to dance to. Even though I don’t dance. Well, I dance mentally. It’s true.
BANGSTYLE: What’s your favorite piece of musical equipment and why?
R: I don’t like to play favorites. I miss the vintage synths I played with Madame Psychosis, for sure. But currently… I love Elissa’s Alesis Ion. And my Pearl snare that I got off eBay 10 years ago.
BANGSTYLE: Growing up, what is your first musical memory or moment that made you think, “I need to be a musician?”
R: I played my father’s Casio RZ-1 drum machine back when I was six or seven. That was the moment for me. I was determined to make beats forever!
E: I was five, and my neighbors had this Fisher-Price pop-up grand piano, and I figured out how to play a melody that was in my head. I remember it was actually really astonishing to realize that was possible! I was instantly hooked and asked for piano lessons, which I ended up sticking with for 10 years.
BANGSTYLE: If you had control to have your audience visualize one thing when listening to your music, what might it be?
E: With the songs on Perla, I kept revisiting this image of being very tranquil and protected in a swarm of chaos. Like floating in one of those shark cages or sitting still in a cloud of killer bees or something. There is this very eye-of-the-storm visual that I still try to return to mentally when I’m performing those songs.
R: I always imagine a strange, beautiful narrative – something that Jean Pierre Jeunet would create. Like those countryside scenes from A Very Long Engagement – or anything from Delicatessen. It’s all mechanical and pulsing and shifting, but also soft and fuzzy and warm. Like Teddy Ruxpin if he wasn’t so damn creepy.
BANGSTYLE: What’s more fulfilling to you, writing/recording or playing live?
R: There are moments during live shows that nothing can match; but overall, I much prefer being in the studio, tapping into our creativity, and pushing the boundaries. There is no audience in the studio, so I feel free to make whatever I want.
E: All of those phases are so different, and there are elements of each that are intensely rewarding. The recording is very technical, and writing and performing come from almost opposite spaces in your brain. So, you have to switch from this phase of being very in-tune with yourself and quietly listening to your inner-voice to a phase of tapping into adrenaline and shutting down your doubts. I love all of these parts of being a musician. I love all the parts except when people want me to be an actress or a character or tell me what haircut I need to have. All I want to do is make noise somehow.
BANGSTYLE: What’s next for Kodacrome?
R: We’re headed back to Brooklyn. We will be tracking our first full-length album over the winter, and I can’t wait!
E: The two big tasks in my book are writing for that record and fusing some more analog percussion into our live set. Really looking forward to recording some new material and returning to Brooklyn!