I was ecstatic to have Brooklyn's LA BIG VIC — one of my favorite new bands going right now — live on WNYU yesterday. Soaring with retrofuturistic direction, the band's music draws inspiration from past visions of the future. Using synthesizers, violin and percussive vocals, La Big Vic (Emilie Friedlander, Peter Pearson and Toshio Masuda) creates massive and sublime soundscapes — sultry, slow-moving space jams and pulsated, beatific atmospherics are perpetually ringed with a cosmic exoticism. The time-traveling all makes you want to get on a concord jet and head somewhere mysterious (or Utopian) and new (or old).
The band brought four tracks to the New Afternoon Show (the whole set is about eighteen minutes) and hung out for a quick interview, where they explained what they think the future will be like (green with floating shopping malls), their 70s Kosmiche and Krautrock influences, the many languages of La Big Vic, and their forthcoming release on Underwater Peoples.
++ Download: LA BIG VIC live set on WNYU, 8/12/10
++ Interview here, partially transcribed + surprises after the jump
Can you guys talk about your background and when you all met and formed La Big Vic?
Emilie: I think that you guys met before I met you.
Peter: Quite possibly. La Big Vic has a past that’s shrouded in mystery.
It seems like you guys would. The music is really mysterious. Around when did you form?
Peter: These guys played together last fall, about a year ago. My first show with the band was December.
Emilie: Before Peter joined we played a show I think at Market Hotel Yoga, it was totally protean at that point.
Toshia: It was just two of us. Still very cranky, very intense. Peter is peaceful.
Peter: It’s a lot more synthesizers now, too, before it was guitar and violin. They did a social at Camilla from Future Shuttle’s fabulous loft.
Emilie: Perfect Wave Gallery.
I read online that you guys met through someone named Vic and that’s why you’re called LA BIG VIC. Is that true?
Peter: Yeah. He’s like 6 ft. 8 or something. 7 ft. 1? He’s huge.
Emilie: And he isn’t anymore, but he used to be a pizza delivery guy, and he would deliver his pizzas on skateboard. And we wanted him to be in the band really really bad but he didn’t want to be in it. He’s a mysterious guy.
Peter: He’s kind of shy, even though he’s really tall.
So you guys are all from different countries? I read that on the Internet, too.
Emilie: There’s some misinformation out there. Toshio is from Japan, he’s from around Osaka. I’m from Brooklyn, born and bred, but I’m of Swiss descent.
Peter: I’m from the country of Wisconsin. Hi dad, he’s listening.
That’s interesting, because on the Internet people seem to play up this aspect of your music, like — “it’s music from people from three different countries!” That’s kind of interesting, the way people make myths about music.
Emilie: We like myth.
I like myths, too. I think there should be myths surrounding a band like La Big Vic. So you guys started around the fall, and you have a cassette out on Whip?
Emilie: Whip Casettes.
Peter: It’s out now, but I think we’re putting something out on Underwater Peoples soon. I don’t know if that’s official or not.
Emilie: More or less, it will be a tape.
That’s awesome. With new songs?
Emilie: A mixture of new and old.
It seems like you guys would fit in well with the Underwater Peoples’ roster. That’s cool. Another question, you guys get described as ‘futuristic’ a lot, and I was kind of wondering where you draw influence from in terms of making your music sound futuristic, if that’s even intentional. And what you guys think the future is going to be like?
Emilie: Toshio can talk about anything political. He speaks for political views of the band. On my end, well, we’re all pretty into synthesizers, and especially Toshio and Peter. And especially 70s Kraut-rock and Kosmische music, among other movements, and a lot of that music had a strong futuristic element, and was kind of an announcement through the synthesizer of this Utopian future.
Peter: Alternate futures of the past or something.
Emilie: Yeah, so when we talk about it today it becomes retrofuturism, meaning that we’re looking at how people in the past envisioned the future, and it changes it up a lot. It changes it from if we were just making music about the future, we’re making music about past futures. And our future.
Peter: The future is going to be green. And in space.
When do you guys think you all discovered that sphere of music that influences you?
Emilie: I’ve been listening to that stuff since high school.
Peter: It kind of starts with punk rock, I think, and branches out in all directions.
It’s interesting to hear an elaboration on the word futuristic, describing your music, because I feel like futuristic is so vague and you can think of…the Jetsons, or something, when you think of futuristic. But that’s...probably not what you’re going for.
Emilie: That’s sort of another retrofuture, I guess, when we look at it today.
Peter: It’s also because Toshio’s from Japan, and they live in the future. About twelve hours I think. [laughs] It’s probably already tomorrow there.
Toshio: Yeah it’s like 7:30 in the morning or something.
Emilie: Are your parents up to listen to it?
Toshio: I think so.
When did you move to New York?
Toshio: Like, two years ago, almost.
Ohh, cool. I read also somewhere, that you write your lyrics in a made up language. Is that true? Or is it just some language that we’ve never heard of?
Peter: Like the Cocteau Twins or something.
Emilie: There are many languages of La Big Vic. In one of the songs I’m singing in Latin.
Which song is that?
Emilie: Musica. On another song we’re singing in English. And there are some lyrics in the Heyo song that are more percussive than actually semantic but there are actual words for most of it. I’m singing about a sicada and a Silver Morning. But we wish that Toshio would sing in Japanese because Toshio speaks five different languages.
Are there any bands from Japan that you think are really good right now?
Toshio: That depends. The Japanese underground scene is kinda cool. Like, Boredoms. Or, Boredoms. [laughs] There are so many good local bands, especially in Osaka, northern Tokyo.
Is there anything else in the future of La Big Vic?
Emilie: We’d like to have guest collaborators. DM us.
Peter: If you want to have our music in airline commercials or anything like that.
Emilie: Oh yeah, that’s our main goal.
Peter: Air France.
Is that for any particular reason?
Peter: Someone told us that we should have our song in an Air France commercial and we thought it was funny.
Emilie: And probably pretty appropriate. That’s the one home I can imagine for our music.
There is this kind of…not otherworldly, but it reminds you of traveling or something.
Peter: Like concord jets or the new huge shopping malls with wings.