Bumblebeez 81

Silent Uproar: You have been on quite a ride lately, going from being somewhat unknown to winning awards in the UK and being featured over here on MTV. What do you think it is about your music that has everyone so interested?

Chris: I think it is just has a pure sound, like it isn’t someone trying to be someone else that is doing this thing. It is just someone doing what they do. I think when someone does something original and is just being themselves, it has always got a lot of strength to it.

SU: Do you think you could write a straightforward song and not want to chop it up? Or is it just not sound right to you until you have had a chance to break it down and reassemble it?

Chris: Every day I do a different type of song. I sit down and do a country song or a rap song or something more hardcore like drum and bass. I know because I went to art school, I like pushing the process a bit further and I think that comes with just tweaking it and experimenting with stuff and having no boundaries at all.

SU: I was going to ask if you think this approach stems from your art background.

Chris: Yeah, I think that is where it definitely comes from. My art is a lot of collages and juxtaposition of images and just taking shit from anywhere like from the media or nature and whacking it together.

SU: Do you ever worry that the un-straightforward style may alienate some listeners?

Chris: No I am not worried at all because I am not trying to make music that pleases everybody, I am just trying to make music. So you can’t keep everyone happy.

SU: What do you think about all the smashups coming to the forefront, the Grey Album, etc?

Chris: I think its good. This stuff has been going on for ages and I guess a lot of people have been doing more weird sort of basement mixes and a lot of this shit now is sort of coming out of the bedroom and into the main arena, which is good.

SU: Is this something you are interested in doing?

Chris: Yeah I have done heaps of smashups like Bjork and Busta Rhymes, just sorting taking things and mashing them together. I’m not saying I would release them as a commercial thing; it is more of something you do for fun.

SU: Has it always been the plan to take your music back to the US? Or did it kind of just happen that way?

Chris: Yeah, I always wanted my music to be played all over the world. It is going pretty good I suppose, the UK liked it and back home got onto it and now the US is sort of feeling it, which is cool.

SU: How did you hook up with Geffen?

Chris: I don’t know, I met heaps of record companies because quite a few record companies were interested, but in the end Geffen were the ones that really let me do what I wanted to do, so I decided to go with them in the end.

SU: Since Printz is really a combination of your two earlier albums White Printz and Red Printz, does it seem odd promoting these songs that must seem really old to you at this point?

Chris: Yeah totally. This stuff is like 2 years old and I have been making heaps of tracks a day. I have like a thousand new tracks that I want to start pumping.

SU: Have you started laying down any of that?

Chris: On Wednesday I am going to LA and that is when we start working on the new album. The new stuff man, it blows the old shit away. So I would kinda like to get the new stuff out there. It’s cool, like everyone hears the new stuff and they are really into it, so I suppose I have to step back some and let everyone sort of have their first date with the Printz songs. Then when everyone catches on, sorta drop the new shit.

SU: Did the inclusion of your sister in the Bumblebeez music seem like a natural thing to you?

Chris: No, I don’t know what happened there. Like we were always just sort of fucking around and she would be spitting rhymes or whatever and then I sort of did a track with her and people really liked it and it just happened. Everything became like the rock songs and the rap songs and it all just went together.

SU: Is it something that will be present on the new material too?

Chris: Yeah, definitely. The new album could have heaps of different elements. I think there will always be a sort of rap side then a heavy like production side and bass side to it. I think when I am making records over the next four years or whatever, that aesthetic will be there. Then maybe when I get older I will make more love songs or something.

SU: I have read that you are also into graphic design and enjoy using flash. Did you do make the Pony Ride video?

Chris: Yeah, me and another mate made that video. To me the visual is exactly as important as the music. It is about 50% for both. I think that is because I went to art school. I like art and then music has always been there as well, and I guess in the end music has been a better medium for me to express myself.

SU: Does it surprise you at all that the video is getting play on MTV2 here in the US, which can be a tough thing to break into?

Chris: Um, yeah I don’t know. I don’t know how MTV and all that shit works, but everyone else is hyped up about it, which is cool, so I am just going along with it.

SU: Well it is a pretty big accomplishment because a lot of the videos on MTV and such are high dollar videos with this elaborate production work going on. To have something you and a friend made on the computer break through and make it on is pretty rad.

Chris: That’s cool, because I think there is heaps of shit like that, whether it even be like movies that aren’t such big budget movies, but they’re just as good. I think if there is a strong idea there and someone can pull it off, then it is easy to compete with the big budgets.

SU: Have you thought of taking the visuals one step further and maybe doing shorts for each of the songs on the record and putting them on a DVD or something?

Chris: Yeah, the visuals is sort of the next part for the whole thing. Like, we have started getting them together for the live show and that sort of thing. We have to do it slowly as well and get all these great minutes, but visuals are big part of the songs and even a part of the Bumblebeez thing.

Even with some of the new songs I have started to make the visuals first and then try and put music to the visuals; even if it turns out to be a complete soundtrack song instead of a pop song. I am really into soundtrack music and sort of atmospheric music, like the Donnie Darko soundtrack.

SU: I see you are going to be on this years Lollapalooza.

Chris: Yeah, we are going to do that, which is cool, and we just did Australia and the tour with Radiohead, and we just did a tour with NER*D, and that was a really fun show to do with Pharell, he’s cool

How do you think your music will go over in the festival type atmosphere like that?

Chris: I think it should be alright. It is pretty upstagey and wild and crazy. It is pretty punkie and pretty hip-hop, and there is heaps of energy. I think the American kiddies will really get into it.

SU: Since the album was made digitally using your laptop, how do you recreate that sound live?

Chris: It is basically all my mates from my home town. We have drums, bass, guitar, decks, samplers, and then just sort of mics. We basically go crazy and just try to recreate the songs.

SU: Do you enjoy playing the live shows? Or would you rather be working in the studio?

Chris: No, I would rather be in the studio. From day one, this was never a band, it wasn’t like 4 mates who wrote a bunch of songs and decided to go into the studio. So when I made it, it was a total studio creation making total sorta weird punkie songs. So when you have to split that and try and create it live, it is just a hassle. I can never make it sound the same; because there is a lot of weird production going on underneath that you just can’t do live. So sometimes it works, but sometimes it doesn’t. It’s a bitch, but…

SU: Are thee any songs you avoid in the live show or do you try and pull off everything?

Chris: Yeah, we try and pull it all off, but “Pony Song” is just one song we can’t do live. We have tried and it just doesn’t work. So people always say we should play that song, and we’re like uggh, we just can’t do it. I mean we could play it by playing it on a tape and then sorta dancing around to it, which is whack, but we can’t play it live. The live show will get better, but it is just one of those things.

SU: One of the things you are becoming better known for is producing songs. I know you did some tracks for the Scissor Sisters and there have been rumors about you working for everyone from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to Brittany Spears. Could you tell me who all you have done songs for and how you hooked up with them?

Chris: Yeah the Brittany Spears shit is just rumors; I don’t know where that one came from. I have done stuff with a lot more UK artists. I did the few tracks for the Scissor Sisters which was fun. I have done heaps of stuff, but it just isn’t any big stuff yet, and I have done a lot more like bedroom remixes instead of commercial remixes. Like maybe a mashup of Brittany Spears with something, but it is nothing that is a commercial release and I don’t really want it to be. I think that is what the media jumped on and said I was working with Brittany or whatever.

SU: Do you enjoy producing where you are working with someone else’s music, or do you find it tough to not want to take the music apart and really put it in your own style?

Chris: Yeah, like the Scissor Sisters I found really hard. Like when I first heard the song I couldn’t stand the vocals and I just didn’t know what to do with it. People want you to remix it sorta like this and it can be confusing. I like it much better when I am in the studio with the artist at the same time, rather then someone sending me files and tweaking with it. I suppose it depends on how you are feeing that day. Sometimes I get bombed and make a cracker track out of it, so yeah it just depends on the day.

SU: You have commented that you see the Bumblebeez as a way to get your foot in the door to move on to art, fashion, movies, producing, etc. Is that to say that you don’t really see doing Bumblebeez long-term?

Chris: No, Bumblebeez will go until I am dead because I am always making music. It is more just to open it up. From day one I have always wanted to make clothes or do movies, and my manager was like, let’s just do one thing at a time and get your name out there and then that shit would just come easier. So yeah, I will be making music until I am dead for sure.

May 25 2004