We got a chance to catch up with electronic music act Genuis. After playing a string of shows, including opening for Au Revoir Simone and performing at the KDVS 50th Anniversary, Genuis is in the process of producing records, album art, and music videos for their album .//WAV. While you’re reading the interview, check out this awesome mix handpicked by Genuis personally made for KDVS.
Who are you? Where are you from? How did you become a band?
Lien: I’m Elfboi. From Reykjavik, Iceland. Became a band cause we knew each other for a long time and I had a show booked for Sophia’s. I had no band or personal new music at the time. Heard Anthony’s stuff, and asked him to play with me! yayyy he said yesssss.
Anthony: I’m Anthony from the unincorporated district outside of Santa Maria, CA. Became a band when we met backstage at X-Factor(Season 2) after both failing to win over America’s heart in the quarterfinals. The rest is history.
Where did your band name come from?
When we had booked our first show at Sophia’s and had no music at all, we started to experiment with collaborating with each other. We did it in the old studio A at KDVS for two weeks pulling all nighters like crazy. We realized we didn’t have a name so we kept on throwing out names. I always had a dream of being a genius but realized that I can’t become one by wishing it upon myself so thought it would be could to call ourselves Genius. Then it turned to Genuis because we aren’t that crazyyyyy.
What is the source of inspiration for your music? Artists or albums you’re excited about?
In the beginning we listened to a lot of stuff like shlomo, flying lotus, jazz swing core. So more experimental based electronic music that seemed more unclassifiable at the time because electronic music was so based on being “indie” or “dance” or “beat driven”.
Lien: I’m excited for St. Vincent cause she knows how to write a song! She is very playful with her classical training and charming in her self-deprecation towards her music through casual-ness. And always into Mac DeMarco just because he makes me feel like I can maybe skateboard.
Anthony: I’m draw to the edge of electronic/experimental pop music that is somewhere between sample based and synth driven. Hudson Mohawke and Teebs first inspired me to make music, Micachu and Arca are current favorites<3
With so much online interaction among listeners and artists, how do you think fan bases have changed? Can you see the alternative/experimental scene going back to fan mail and personal interactions or is it all on band camp, email, or Facebook now?
Well a fan base can grow a lot quicker because of social media of course but then it has more competition with everyone always trying to shove things in your face. Like we are doing, then shoving it in your face hahaha. Though I don’t think it takes away from the personal interaction of fans because there are still fans that will go see a show instead of staying indoors to watch it uploaded onto youtube later. It just allows for more music to be spread faster and without limitation. Though online interaction does make it seem that the artist is more of an idea rather than real people making music. It is what it is.
I don’t think we would necessarily “go back” to fan mail because people still do that all the time! I think it is easier to do the online thing but the fan mail/personal interactions is still a thing that happens all the time we think that just makes it all the more gratifying when it happens.
What’s the story with the Wiimote?
We decided that we wanted to make our live shows more controllable and actually be live. Since it is very easy to making electronic based music and just press play on a laptop, we wanted to explore using untraditional ways of playing live shows through technology.
So we used the Wii remote as a midi controller connected to Ableton through a program called OSCulator to manipulate the controller as the person seems fit. We went to a thrift store once to buy game controllers to see which one we wanted to use.
It just came down that we couldn’t find any game controllers that connected by USB so we just used our friend’s wii remote to connect via bluetooth. Just wanted to think of more interesting things to do is all.
What is the songwriting process usually like?
It depends on what we want to try. I am going to talk in 3rd person so I can explain.
Usually Anthony has an idea. builds upon it. Sends it to Lien, adds, does vocals and critiques. Anthony then add more and changes stuff. Then we keep on sending it back in forth. Anthony is Ableton King so he knows all that stuff. Sometimes we will go to random places and record sounds on our microphones and use those as samples.
For example, Polyxt was started once upon a time cause Lien had keys to the music building. We used to go into the music building and just record random stuff on all the accessible instruments. We had access to a harp and played different lines and thats how Polyxt came out.
Other times we will go out to abandon structures and just throw stuff and record that. Or Lien will write a composition in Sibelius and give it to Anthony to throw into midi to build on that. There are many different ways. We want it to be more experimental and collaborative rather than limiting each other.