Monday, October 04, 2010

Local q&a-- Dharma

Although I no longer live in the area and its obviously become more difficult for me to catch new Dallas/Denton groups perform, several recommendations from WeShotJr writers and other Texas friends that I respect have pointed me in the direction of Kevyn Green, aka Dharma. Her music, which has already attracted the attention of at least one European tape label as well as the highly respected 20 Jazz Funk Greats, is a brand of strange, hypnotic electronic daze that often utilizes the minimalism of cold wave and mixes it with the kind of warped pop sensibility that makes her songs much easier to digest than they should be. Swing by her Myspace page (we'll add a free Mp3 download a bit later) and read what she had to say about her music, which happens to be some of the most interesting stuff I've heard come out of Denton or Dallas for a while now:

Could you tell us some basic info about you-- your name, what you do when you're not making music, how long Dharma has been a project, how long you've been making music, and any other kind of music or art you produce, etc?

My name is Kevyn Green. I just graduated from UT Austin in May. When I'm not making music I'm at my job. I'm a debt collector in Dallas, but we prefer to be called Recovery Analysts. Dharma has been a project for about 3 years but the first 2 were just playing around in my bedroom and not releasing anything or playing shows. I used to play in a band with my old roommate before Dharma for about 2 years. I don't really do much else. I used to make collage art when I had more free time for CD and tape covers but that's about it.

Unfortunately debt collection seems like it has to be one of the fastest growing industries in the country right now. Does your job have any impact on the rest of your life, or are you good at ignoring it? How much do you think the harsh economy and larger social problems affect your music making and listening habits, if at all?

Yeah our company is growing really fast. I'm pretty good at ignoring the job. I really don't have a lot of sympathy for the people I deal with because I hear the same shit all day long. I try not to let anything really impact making music. Sometimes it can be a little frustrating not having nice equipment or trying to record in my bedroom, but that all just adds to the way the music sounds and I deal with it.

Describe how Dharma started as a project.

Dharma started because my old band mate was lame and we really didn't work well together. I was living in Austin and didn't have a lot of friends and spent most of my time alone so I started recording music by myself and realized I was much more comfortable doing that then trying to work with other people. It took me a while to start putting songs together that I actually liked. Most of the really early material is wild and noisy but as time went on they started sounding more like actual songs. As far as my drive to create.. I don't think life is very enjoyable if all you do is work or go to school so to have some sort of creative outlet is really important to me.

Whats the most difficult part about working on music with other people for you? Do you imagine yourself trying it again in the future?

I'm just really impatient and kind of picky about the way things sound. I wouldn't really mind working with other people again it would just have to be a completely different project. I don't want a backing band for Dharma or anything like that. I need all the attention.

Can you tell us about your creative process-- what kind of equipment you use and the method you employ to put songs together?

I don't have any cool equipment. I just use some mini synths and casios, a sequencer, a vocal processor, and some other things I use to make noise. I just record it all into my computer and hope they sound okay.

Your lyrical style seems at times loose, and at other times has an almost mantra like quality. Can you tell us about your lyrics-- how you write them, and maybe some of the things that inspire you to write them?

Lyrics are usually the last thing I write. I'll have an idea for a song and a title then write all the music and record it then I'll write lyrics. For some reason almost every song I write is about Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I have several about philosophy. Others are just about whatever I'm thinking about or reading or watching at the time.

So then are lyrics not all that important to you then? Do they serve more as an additional instrument than as a way to convey a narrative or express something directly with language?

Yeah I'm more interested in the way it sounds then anything else. Most of the lyrics are just completely ridiculous.

Can you tell us about some of Dharma's music influences?

I listen to a lot of different music. I like Depeche Mode, Soft Cell and Fad Gadget and Arab on Radar and I listen to a lot of 90s hip hop and some pop. I guess Dharma is a big mess of all those different genres.

I know that most any artist I have ever spoke with hates being lumped in with a "genre," so i have to ask-- someone in one of our comments sections the other day asked, probably half jokingly, if "Dharma is 'witchhouse?'" what would be your answer to that?

Dharma is BITCHhouse.

So how did you end up on 20 jazzfunk greats?

A small label in Denmark has released a Dharma cassette tape and they're doing an LP and they sent out a bunch of stuff to 20JFG. I guess they liked Dharma and wrote a really strange review about me. They said I was like a satanic aerobics instructor or something.

Could you tell us a little bit about the label and how you connected?

It's just two Danish guys who like a lot of weird noisy music. They've put out some cassette tapes, a few 7" and I think I'll be the first LP. They just emailed me one day because they heard my music on the internets and wanted to put out a tape.

What are some of your favorite bands in Denton and Dallas right now? Favorite place to play?

I really like Cuckoo Byrds and Orange Coax. I played a show with Darktown Strutters and they were really great. I'm friends with Florene and they're pretty good too. I think there's a lot of good music in Denton and Dallas right now, but there's also plenty of terrible bands too. My favorite place to play was DOOM but I guess it shut down after that show we played. I played Dan's Silverleaf a few times but wasn't very well received. I prefer house shows where everyone is crowed around me then playing on a stage though.

What do you think the general quality of the scene, bands and venues here is like compared to austin, or compared to a few years ago?

I definitely prefer to Denton's music scene to Austin. There's an overwhelming number of trashy garage shit punk bands in Austin who play almost every night. However, I think the Denton scene has really died down compared to a few years ago. A few years ago it just seemed a lot more exciting and there were good shows almost every night. Now there's not as much going on. There haven't even been any good touring bands coming to the big venues in town lately. It just seems kind of dead.



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