Interview

Rainbow Arabia

Bas: Tell me about your house.
Danny: Our house is old and has lots of personality. It’s located in Echo Park; the front window looks out to the downtown skyline. The back looks into our backyard that is full of bamboo and trees, and onto some radio towers on the hillside over the canyon.

This is exactly what I had in mind. The combination of modern and earthy. Urbanity and bamboo… beats and ethnic rhythms… Pro Tools and pig skin…
It’s more like giant dogs, Ableton and Casios.

Giant dogs?
We love dogs. Right now we have an Irish Wolfhound/Briard mix and a Bouvier des Flandres. There’s a Basset Hound buried in the backyard.

I am quite green when it comes to dogs but they sound impressive. So sorry about the Basset though. Is it legal to bury a dog in your backyard?
No… it’s not legal. Here’s a little story. This was the first dog I had on my own. His name was Huddie Ledbetter. Tiff and I were out of town while my best friend was watching him. He was having some health issues. He had a glass eye and was going blind in the other. He ended up passing while away at my friend’s house. All my friends knew Huddie and they all went over to my friend’s house. They wrapped him in a blanket and put him in a pickup truck, then drove to my house with an escort of cars following. They buried a hole and had a service for him, playing Leadbelly and drinking whiskey. Wish I could have been there, but it does sound like a good way to see him off.

That is a nice story. Moving. It really shows how big a role he played in your life. People with dogs are more stuck to the house than people without dogs. Is that why you make music that refers to cultures and countries all over the globe… do you travel without moving?
Not sure if that’s a reason why we make our music. We have always been fans of all music and both of us love to travel. Luckily we have lots of friends that house-sit for us, so we can leave town a lot.

How much time do you spend away from home normally?
This year we will be gone for about four months.

You must miss Murphy and Django at these times. (Is it after Django Reinhardt and Eddie Murphy, by the way?)
Yes, we do. You’re right about Django, but Murphy is named after Peter Murphy (the lead singer of Bauhaus). He is very goth.

How can a dog be goth?
It’s his haircut. He’s got bangs that cover one eye.

Wow! Is that natural or groomed? I’ve always been fascinated by pet barbers.
He has the bangs naturally, but the groomer makes the sweep.

Just out of curiosity – how much does it cost to make a dog bang sweep?
It’s about 70 bucks for the full clean and groom. We only have it done every once in a while. They have to be groomed eventually or their hair will get really long.

That’s one of those things you don’t think about when you don’t have a dog. And what makes Django Django?
Django is more like a football player, while Murph is a soft, gentle guy. They are best friends. Who says jocks and artists can’t be besties?

What a perfect world you live in! How does your wife fit into that perfect world? Living in a husband-and-wife domestic environment myself, I feel pretty comfortable asking this question – any fights lately?
It can be difficult… but most fights are about music. We have our studio downstairs. So, tensions can arise downstairs in the studio and then everything goes back to normal when we go back upstairs.

Thanks for being so honest. What do you fight about in the studio?
Stupid stuff. I’d rather not go into detail.

Musical choices and decisions are never stupid. They are essential… so that’s why you fight?
Yeah, I guess. But I think there are deeper reasons behind those stupid things.

Should I ask deeper?
I think it would be better for both of us to be present rather than me speaking for the two of us.

You’re are right… is Tiffany home?
(chuckles)

The dogs help to ease the tension, I assume. The sentence ‘I’m gonna walk the dog’ must be a common one.
Yes they do. Thank god.

Just one more question about studio dynamics – if I’d ask you ‘What shouldn’t you try at home?’, would your answer be ‘making a record’?
There’s still magic in making a record at home. But if you want to go with that as an interesting answer for the magazine, we can say that.

We could. But seriously, it sounds intense to make a record at home. But intense is
close to magic.
Definitely.

How do you combine it with homely activities such as cooking dinner?
We usually have a break to cook dinner. We also make fresh juice every day. It’s pretty routine.

Who cooks? Together?
We take turns. We both have our specialties.

Like what?
Tiffany makes a mean salmon with dill cream sauce and I’m an expert at making fresh hummus.

So actually, you are quite a normal LA couple living in a good house with two dogs. You cook salmon in dill cream sauce and you drink a daily fresh fruit juice… How does that relate to the kind of music you make?
It doesn’t… our music comes from the clash of multiple influences from our backgrounds. I have a background of blues, new wave, post-punk, reggae, African, all kinds of world music. And Tiff has a background of metal, goth, classic rock, punk rock. The dynamics of the differences of our background make this complex recipe of
mixed genrefication.

I’ve seen somebody calling your music ‘fourth-world music’, as opposed to the easier classification of world music. What are your thoughts on that?
I think the fourth-world pop description is accurate. It just kinda explains this new movement of electronic music that is influenced by the whole world.

Isn’t that also really how things work these days – being connected and blending everything into a personal and almost self-indulgent kind of art? In a way the people in the music scene these days are all hippies with a Macbook in the giant digital comfort zone. Geographical location, or where your home is, is not so important anymore. Yet according to your answers – dogs, bamboo, yard, old furniture, juice… it is.Do you and Tiff like to sit on the couch watching TV and eating a TV dinner in sweat pants?
We like to, but we don’t have the time to. I still like to just chill and play records. I used to be a big record collector and have lots of music to listen to that’s not on a Macbook. I wish it was all on my Macbook, though!

Vinyl is hard to digitise. But maybe you shouldn’t anyway. Better put the needle in the groove and pour a glass of wine.
I agree.

So, what record are you gonna play when you get home from work?
Lately, I have been pulling some old Art of Noise records out. No wine tonight though, but a beet-carrot-ginger-apple juice.

And who’s cooking?
Not sure what’s on the menu tonight. Actually, I have to run to the store. Maybe roast up a chicken.

Enjoy all that! Nice and homely.

Rainbow Arabia live dates: 12/09 – l’escalier, luik; 13/09 – incubate, Tilburg; 17/09 – leffingeleuren festival, leffinge (Middelkerke)