A Chat With: Black Bambi
Montreal's psychedelic rock band Black Bambi recently released their second EP; This Isn't Love. I sat down with Julien Corrado (drums), Sacha Gubany (guitar/vocals) and Jason Tawfik (bass/synth/vocals) to chat about how the band started, the making of the EP, music videos and much more!
How did you guys come up with Black Bambi?
Jason: I think it was word association-just listing a bunch of words we liked and try to combine them and see which one made us trip out
And how did the band come together?
Julien: We just all gravitated towards music together. Sacha has his other band, I was in another band before and Jason was getting into music more on the music production side but he’s always been craving to make loud noise. We were like ‘you know what? Let’s start a band’ Sacha didn’t even know it but he was in the band. It was a surprise to all of us
What made you guys want to become musicians?
Sacha: My dad played guitar and sang when I was a kid and then I wanted to do that. I pretty much did that all throughout being a kid and then less in high school and then in Cegep I started singing and playing guitar again. I was just like ‘all right this is pretty sweet, I could do this’
Julien: I don’t think it was ever a conscious decision to be like ‘I’m going to be a musician’ I was always around instruments and played music. At some point you play more and more and you just become more serious about it and by more serious I mean you practice and you come up with stuff
Jason: Yeah we just listened to a lot of music growing up me and him (Julien)
Sacha: Oh yeah! They grew up together, they’ve known each other since they were kids
Jason: At some point I was like ‘fuck I’m down to make some of this instead of just listening’ I started messing around with the bass and next thing you know I’m playing bass with this kid playing drums and this kid belting it all the way home
Julien: Yeah he’s fucking loud he doesn’t even need a mic
Who are some of your inspirations for the band?
Julien: I don’t know if there’s any specific inspirations
Jason: Well, Led Zeppelin as a drumming influence, sound wise like loud, big, in your face. Tame Impala, anything that’s psychedelic. Hip-hop too was a big influence when we were growing up. Hip-hop beats and bass lines and stuff
Julien: When you think about it a lot of our songs have that drum and bass. Actually, there’s both; we have some songs that start off with riffs which Sacha comes up with and then we put drums to that or bass lines or synths and building off of that
Jason: Or sometimes we just bring entire songs. Like Sacha will write a song or I’ll write a song and Jul will come up with a bass line. We bring something that’s almost ready that we can jam together too and they end up liking it so we jam to it and see what happens
What’s more important: the lyrics or instrumental?
Julien: I’d say both
Sacha: Both together yeah, I can’t say one or the other.
Jason: It depends on your audience I guess. There are some people who only listen to lyrics and don’t even know what a bass line is and some people who only listen to beats and bass lines
Julien: I think it also depends if you’re listening to it in headphones or if you’re going to a show. If you’re going to a show I think it's the instrumental part, I see vocals more as an instrument, like you hear the melody, you don’t necessarily get all the words. We’re trying to work towards getting something more crisp, like having an effect on the vocal but still be able to hear what’s being said. I think live is more the intensity of a feeling and when you’re listening in headphones that’s where crafting the melody and the lyrics to the vibe that you’re setting with the instruments
Jason: Live is instrumental definitely
Julien: But we try to incorporate more- like Jason writes a lot of poetry and Sacha is very good with words. I’m not as good with words, I enjoy words but I’m not good at doing it and in live shows we’re trying to incorporate that more. Our songs have a spoken word in them as well, and just throwing in poetry, kind of The Doors a bit, not necessarily like The Doors but you know how-
Jason: Yeah they’re a huge influence
Yeah I hear that, I was going to say that Mutante and Desert Sun you can hear The Doors influence in there
Julien: Yeah, I find it's a good way to set the tone with that whole psychedelic vibe. It could go on forever but when you throw in poetry or spoken words you’re almost like going to church, you have someone telling you stuff
Jason: Yeah, like a preaching, almost a voodoo vibe, a tribal kind of sense, a shamanic experience almost
When you guys write together, what comes first?
Sacha: For me its been the music first or kind of together. If I’m doing something on my own it’ll be guitar and sort of humming something and then writing something after
Jason: Sometimes I write words first but it's really tough to go from words to a song
Julien: What’s cool though, words to a song, it goes to the emotion. Sometimes Sacha will write lyrics and its like ‘oh what images come to mind’ and then you kind of build on that
Jason: It does help to set an aesthetic for sure cause sometimes you write songs and you’re like ‘what the fuck are we trying to do?'
What does This Isn’t Love mean to you guys?
Julien: The way it all started is we recorded 11 or 12 songs and it was supposed to be one album called This Isn’t Love, We’re In The Jungle which is a poetry work Jason put together and we split it up into two EP’s so This Isn’t Love and the second EP is We’re In The Jungle
Jason: Its funny how it happened too, its kind of lyrics to another song in some other project but I showed it to Julien one day and he was like ‘woah! I like that let’s keep that’
Sacha: the split fit better, like having the 6 songs now and then the 5 or 6 songs later to give people a chance to actually listen to the first 6 and let it soak in. It’s a lot to throw 12 songs at somebody, not everybody is willing to sit down and listen
Julien: What’s cool too is that it's a negative statement, its like you don’t really know what something is but we know its not love. I think it refers to the whole jungle thing of shit happens to you in life and it’s not necessarily love, it just happens and you have to deal with it
Jason: Its also the typical thing of being in a relationship or situation with someone and you think its something but it's not so then you’re like ‘okay this isn’t love, its just bullshit’ or whatever. It can mean that or it can mean anything else
How did Rip You come about?
Jason: I don’t remember, probably just a break up as usual. Most songs for me come from being sad. I’m not walking around in a hype mood writing songs. I’m usually kind of bummed and thinking about shit and I’ll write stuff. That song, I think it's totally random. I was messing with the bass line and I showed it to Sacha and he was like ‘let’s do something with this because I really like it’ and usually the songs I write that I don’t like, people like them and the ones I like people don’t. It always seems to be that
Julien: I get a lustful feeling from it
Sacha: I don’t know I just find it so cool like with the drum beat and the bass…it's so loud but it sucks everything up
What about Mutante?
Sacha: Mutante was a guitar thing that I came up with. It was actually cool when we recorded it because I was just fucking around in Jason’s house and then Julien had this drum pad he started doing a bunch of percussions on the song and I couldn’t hear what he was doing. Jason had mic’ed up the amp on the ground and connected it to the drums so I was trying to stay as steady as possible and just loop it over and over and he recorded it and it was just a one shot deal
Julien: Yeah and we listened to it and we were like ‘oh shit this is really cool!’ and you redid vocals a week after?
Sacha: The same day and I hadn’t written any words to it
Julien: Its cool the lyrics, there’s not really any lyrics to it like I hear something and they hear something different
They’re very in the background like that song you don’t listen to it for the lyrics
Julien: Its funny, I told Sacha its like, to me that song is more about death and darkness but set in a light way. A lot of the stuff like Rip You; we tried to put together a lot of darkness with light and create a balance with that. But yeah, Sacha had told me that, that song (Mutante) is a love song to the person you’re going to be with later on. You don’t know who that is, like in 50 years from now. I thought that was really gnarly! Like I don’t know who you are but I’m writing this song for you in the future. It can be to not one specific person but to anyone that comes into your life. I thought that also linked back to the whole death thing too. You don’t know how many times you come back in life, who’s here and who’s been here and who will be here and I don’t know that’s kind of where the psychedelic thing comes in, like a never ending loop
Jason: Yeah that song can go on for three days
Julien: But yeah, like Sacha and Jason said it was cool, Sacha was playing the guitar, I could hear what he was playing and I was playing to his feelings and Jason was the only one who could hear both, like everything. It was a very interesting way of recording
How is this EP different from Voodoo Booze?
Julien: Well Voodoo Booze was recorded in my dad’s basement
Sacha: With shitty instruments and gear
Julien: This one we went 3 days to a cottage with our friends Jo and Cat who helped. Jason is pretty much the sound engineer so he recorded and set everything up and we got this really good gear and we tracked 11 songs in two and half days from top to bottom
Jason: It literally was a religious experience
Julien: Yeah, for a week after that we were fried
Jason: Its crazy, I don’t know how bands go away for a week and a half or two weeks to record an album. They must lose their goddamn mind!
Julien: But back to how it was different; the gear was better, I think in a year Sacha became a thousand times better at guitar, vocally he just belts it more which also comes from practicing with The Corks. Jason, Voodoo Booze was the first time he kind of picked up a bass so in a year he learned a lot more
Jason: Oh yeah, the difference is that I couldn’t play bass on the first EP. I literally could not play one of my bass lines on Voodoo Booze which is pretty funny
Julien: Voodoo Booze was also rushed in the sense that we wanted to put something out like ‘hey we exist let’s book some shows’ and now its more like, let’s send it out and book shows but its also where the bar is at now and it pushes you to always go towards what’s next
You guys have a few videos out, tell me a bit about their aesthetics
Julien: I think they all start off the same, like I listen to a song and I try to get glimpses of images in my head or feelings and once you get that you need to try to build the images so you have two projects side to side that speak to one another. Our next video Rip You, we’re just trying to figure out when to release it
Yeah you just released a video not long ago!
Sacha: Yeah we released Little Loser 2 weeks ago which was a lot different from the last ones too, its pretty simple
Julien: But yeah its cool, we made most of the videos with this guy Johnny who plays in Sacha’s other band and Little Loser is the first video we did with Marine. I think its always cool to have different aesthetics. What’s cool is that Rip You is the first one that’s really psychedelic and again, I think you can interpret it in different ways
Jason: I guess yeah, I don’t know if we want to get into that topic now about the Rip You video like the content and lyrics and stuff
Julien: Well you’ll see when it comes out
Jason: 'Cause its just tough in this day and age not to shock people. Sometimes you’re in your own project and you think its awesome and then someone from an external point of view looks at it and they’re like ‘dude that’s really fucked up’ and you’re like ‘shit I never even thought of that’. There’s that game of balancing where we don’t want to go overboard and offend people or being fucked up but at the same time we need to make the art for it. Rip You could easily be a very sexually imposing song but at the same time we wanted the clip to compliment the song but not go too far. Some ideas we had at first was bleeding barbie dolls and it looked cool
Julien: But it was too rape-y and then with Rip You we don’t want to come across as being rapists, it has nothing to do with it or us
Jason: Like if you know us, you know that’s not what we want to do, we just like cool aesthetics but at the same time we were like ‘we can’t do this’, especially not with the lyrics, it doesn’t work
Yeah, and especially now with everything that’s happening and coming out in the industry
Jason: Yeah, everyone is calling out artists on what’s not cool and what lyrics are fucked up, fair enough
Julien: Taken out of context though. I think its very easy to impose a shitty context on something and be like ‘this is what it is!’ but it could be the complete opposite, it could be empowering or anything
Jason: A lot of the times our songs are based on a woman singing, its not me singing these words. I got into a woman’s head and I wondered what it would be like for her to live this and then wrote the words. But then to anyone else, no one knows that because I’m saying the lyrics or he’s saying them and to someone else its just us
Julien: Yeah, like who’s to say what’s going on in one’s head. The whole goal is to create something, like if it strikes a chord in you, talk about it! We don’t want to be indifferent
Jason: We want to stir shit up, get people talking. We’re not doing it with a negative intent, we’re doing it with the intent of doing art and making something that moves you
How do you think you fit in the Montreal music scene?
Julien: I don’t know. Our goal this year is to try to get out of the Montreal music scene to see what that’s like cause we play here, we’re from here and we go see a bunch of shows. Its cool but its always friends of friends and I guess more and more its people we don’t know who come which is awesome but we’re looking forward to interacting with nobody we know
Jason: I have no idea, we like to talk to bands afterwards and we usually have a pretty good time. Musically, I think we’re way louder then the people we play with usually
Julien: Some of our songs are more punk but I think we’re more pop do you know what I mean? And some are more heavy but its still dance-y, like the goal is to get people to dance. I remember telling my dad ‘I’d rather have someone hate some of my work than be indifferent’
Jason: For sure, like at a show if people are like ‘eh’ then what’s the point
Guilty pleasure song?
Sacha: I really love Lady Marmalade with Christina Aguilera
Julien: Born This Way by Lady Gaga…I fucking love that song!
Jason: I don’t love this song but it always pops up in my head for some reason, its I Drove All Night by Céline Dion
If you were a cover band, what band would you be?
Fave song from any of your EPs?
Sacha: Little Loser and Mutante
Julien: I actually love How Are You Not Famous?
Jason: Headless Mannequin
Listen to This Isn't Love HERE
Check out Black Bambi