Interview with Scotty Zwang of BangBang
Scotty Zwang of Sonic Spank talks with Sensible Reason about his new project BangBang. Zwang and his partner in crime Todd Stoops, of Kung Fu and RAQ, formed this power house duo last summer at the Big Up Festival and now show no signs of slowing down.
You’re new to the electronic scene as a duo, how do you feel your reception has been since you 1st started out?
We have only played 3 shows, so I would say it’s great. Anyone that saw us at the Big Up, Blockley Pourhouse(Philly), or Sullivan Hall (NYC) had really nice things to say about our sets. It’s pretty rare to grab almost everyone in the crowds attention when you first start a band. There is a lot of trial and error, which we are still experiencing but I think thats why we started this duo in the first place. We knew we could jump over a couple hurdles with our previous experiences on the road and as musicians.
Can you tell me a bit about how you first met at the Big Up Festival and what drew you together?
My band Sonic Spank was playing latenight the night that RAQ played their set. Our mutual friend Scott Shapiro (Meatcamp Productions) had told the RAQ guys that they should really check us out. We didn’t go on till about 5:30am and to say the least, we had many hours to kill. Stoops and Michetti came over and we just hit it off. For anyone that knows them, they are very easy to talk to and fun people to kill time with. About 4 months later, I got a call from Stoops asking me to play drums for this electronic music he had been working on. It took some time to finally get together, but we stayed in contact and sent each other idea’s via Dropbox.
You are both touring with separate acts, Stoops with Kung Fu and you with Sonic Spank, do you find it difficult to schedule shows for BangBang with your hectic and divergent schedules? How do you make it work?
Actually, I am on the road right now with Sonic Spank doing our first headlining tour to head down to AURA. I believe Stoops is doing the exact same thing right now with Kung Fu. Its hard work, just like anything in the music business but we make it work. Right now, I’m finishing up the mixing process for the first full length Sonic Spank album, so its been even harder. Todd and the rest of Kung Fu have been touring like crazy and becoming known all over as the must see jazz fusion band. Our main goal from the beginning was to have fun and play where ever and whenever, so thing will pick up. We kind of started this as a side project but I would love to tour more and see where this all takes us. Either way, its just like any business. We have conversations on the phone all the time about the next step. We meet up when we can to rehearse but most of the time we just send each other tracks and rehearse on our own. We knew when this all started it was going to be this way. I think thats why we wanted to work with each other so badly. We knew that we can make it work and it wouldn’t come off as unrehearsed.
Since you both met recently, do you find sometimes that your influences sometimes clash while making music? Can you tell me about each of your major influences for making electronic music?
We both love music very very much. We don’t have just one style of music me love, we love it all. I think thats how this age of EDM got to where its at in the first place. I know Pretty Lights was a big inspiration for both of us. The idea of taking samples of Etta James or whoever, and mixing it with both Hip Hop and more bass heavy electronic lines. Not that we are trying to produce that hip hop sound, but really just fusing all of our love for music into something that is our sound. I grew up at a young age listening to what was on the radio, TV, and what my parents were listening to. Fortunately my parents had good taste in music but I was watching MTV(when it was still music television) and seeing videos from Nine Inch Nails, The Chemical Brothers, and lots of Hip Hop. I would say those are my biggest influences growing up. I also got into The New Deal in 2001. They made me realize that this music could be played with instruments. My biggest influences right now for making electronic music are my mentor’s Kevin “KJ” Sawka and Allen Aucoin. Working for them for years and there encouragement to play drums instead of tech-ing was the best thing that ever happened to me.
Okey so not a host of questions: What are your methods as far as song structure and composition? Are most of your songs premeditated or the majority of it improvisation? Do you sit and write songs or just jam out until you have a series of catchy hooks that you compile and work into a composition? Or is it a combination or nothing that I have described?
All of our songs are premeditated for the most part. We leave sections open or set them to a loop so we can solo and kind of expand off of our original idea. When we have more time in the future, we are hoping to just lock ourselves in a room and just see what happens but for now computers are our many instrument for making the music. Which works because it seems everyone is making music with there laptops these days. We just like to play our instruments on top of what we produced in the first place. Makes it more fun for us, rather then just pushing buttons and turning knobs the whole time.
What type of direction are you looking to take BangBang? Have you settled on a more signature style or still searching out what works best for you?
The sky is the limit. Right now, we are in our House/Electro/”Dubmahton” stage but I am a big fan of Drum and Bass, so I see that making its way in there. I have also been working on a couple remixes, so look out for those. Really anything is possible. Like I said, we love music and don’t want to limit ourselves as a “fill in the blank” band. What I can say is we will most likely stay away from Rock, Jazz, and Funk, since we already have bands that play that. Maybe not funk, its hard for us not to get funky. haha. The main goal from the beginning though was to do something different from what we already have done. Open our minds and mostly instruments to things we haven’t played before but love.
What can we expect at AURA Music & Arts Festival? Are you planning any other collaborations or sit-ins?
We have played with a lot of people from other bands that are at AURA so I would imagine maybe some of them. Hopefully some new people as well. Big fan of playing with new people and keeping things fresh and interesting.
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