Throughout December I had a chance to chat with two really nice and talented synth-punkers, Rémi & Simon from France, who are now making music in Portland, USA under the moniker Exotic Club.

How did you and Simon, two native Parisans, end up in Portland of all places in the USA?

- "We both met in middle school in Paris. We started playing music together in garage bands and got interested in playing noise garage really loud and tried out performance for the first time together.
We then stopped playing music together for a couple of years ; but we both continued sharing tunes, listening to music together and feeding off of each others new musical finds! After finishing college we both took a year off and headed to Portland where one of us (Simon) has family."

Does the name Exotic Club tie into a certain industry Portland is known for?

- "Well, upon our moving to Portland for the first time in 2011 prior to starting Exotic Club the very particular atmosphere of strip clubs interested us. It's not only that full nude strip clubs are all over Portland. But they are also just funky dive bars that never see the light of day. They are absurd bizarre environments.
But Strip clubs, were just one of the elements of a bigger general cultural shock for us. One of us (Simon) is half American but had never lived in the states, and the other (Remi) had never visited the US prior to our moving in 2011. Evaluating, misunderstanding, learning how to be a part of different American sub cultures and youth subcultures is what characterizes our original stay in Portland. Getting lost in 'Exoticness' is what we dealt with; and this is when we started talking about starting an electronic duo!"

The band was active in Paris and continues now in the US, when you and Simon moved?

- "We started putting out ideas and songs and played our first shows when we moved back to Paris for a year in 2012 before moving back to Portland for good. During that transition year back in our home country we lived together, started buying analogue synths and experimented with sounds and song production together. Our first ten shows were in France. But we missed the diverse DIY vibe and general atmosphere of Portland. We also missed being in a place where the stigma of being a broke ass musician that works in the service industry on the side is practically non existent. So we arranged to move back to the Pacific Northwest for good and started playing music together full time. The first couple months of being back in the states resulted in a debut EP, 'No Dance'."

How did you end up working with the Crash Symbols label?

- "Well, in early 2013, ounce our first set of songs was written and recorded, we started sending them out to labels. Dwight and Liz, the founders and owners of the West Virginia based label, seemed interested in helping us release our first real material as a band! It really seemed to us like they had a modern, dynamic and well thought view of what a small-scale label can bring to the 'post-modern' music industry that we nowadays evolve in. I believe they were starting to get more and more electronic projects on their label around that time. But they hadn't worked with a 'dark synth' inspired band that much yet. We also thought the tape format suited what we envisioned our first EP to be -- a mixtape, a collection of songs that arose in our search of finding our own themes, our own sounds ; rather than an actual 'concept album'."

Before I heard any of your music I noticed you worked with Matt Weiner of Featureless Ghost on the 'No Dance' cassette. This prompted me to look further into your music. Was this collaboration due to both artists being label mates?

- "Yes. This collaboration was due to being label mates. We were first put in contact for remixes. Matt remixed our track "Freaks". And then when the time came to master 'No Dance', Dwight of Crash Symbols suggested Matt. We had loved the remix he had done of our track, and we were really liking his music (TWINS and Featurless Ghost) He ended up doing a great job at mastering our EP! We're looking forward to work with him again in the near future!"

Your label describes your sound and lyrical content being derived from adjusting or transitioning to living in Portland from growing up in Paris. Are there deeper meanings to your songs like "Freaks" and "American Zombies"?

- "Well I mentioned earlier how a lot of our original experience in America in general, an in the Pacific Northwest in particular, was largely a free fall into getting caught in and bewildered by a certain 'exoticness'. A constant palpable sense of utter difference in ambiance and rhythm. And like all human experiences, getting lost in 'exoticness' meant good and bitter aspects. Exoticness of a new place, a new CULTURE. Youth subcultures, drug cultures in America are very different then where we grew up. Artists creating in those subcultures work in very different ways. In a more impulsive, raw ways maybe? Some people call it DIY... We believe that most of the songs on this EP are a direct result of our personal understanding of these cultural differences, a result of how living in such a different culture has affected us. But there is a deeper meaning: that meaning lies in how our PERSONAL experience of these cultural differences has affected us emotionally, sonically ; and how those emotions and sounds can hopefully relate to a variety of human emotions we all feel! We don't want to go much further into details on how that actually transpires in the music if that's alright. I hope we're not too cryptic."

What is/was the hardest transition from working in the French music scene to working with the US music scene? Did you have any help from others outside of Crash Symbols?

- "In a lot of ways working in the US music scene was easier. That is, apart from the inconveniences of having just moved to a new place: like finding good spots to play, good bands to share bills with, etc. But the socio-economic structures that organize the distribution, broadcasting and promotion are quite different. French "Culture" is very institutionalized, very well subsidized by a ministry specifically assigned to distributing money to non profits that organize shows, concerts, film screenings, contemporary art shows... We actually love this about our home country. And we both miss a lot of benefits that come with such a system like, for instance, we miss being able to choose from 30 to 40 different films from half a dozen different countries when we go to the movies in Paris, and for less than $5! But with such an institutionalization come some perks, especially in Music and live performance. The 'good' venues book mainly bands from the States, they are institutionalized subsidized venues that resemble more a Contemporary art Museum than a punk venue where you can puke in a corner and drop acid. Paris lacks in DIY venues. House shows are essentially non existent in Paris. On the contrary, Portland offered us quite the opposite! Also, a lot of people were very helpful. Especially when it came to touring the West Coast. We found collectives in Seattle, San Francisco, Oakland that helped us get great gigs in a variety of venues: galleries, clubs, warehouses, anarchist squats... We also believe we are starting to get a pretty accurate view of were and with which local bands we like to perform live."

Your style has been described as synth-punk. You definitely hear a punk influence laced into the fabric of your compositions on 'No Dance'. What influences lead you into this direction?

- "Well we always have listened to punk, the two of us. As Teenagers we were really into the late 70's New York CBGB scene, and No Wave. Especially Richard Hell and the Voidoids. Also we really got interested in live performance and experimental elements in popular music through proto-punk : mainly The Stooges and The Velvet Underground. Also we got interested in making electronic music, in many ways, through Dark Wave and New Wave, electronic genres that branched out of the huge impact punk culture made on music! We are currently branching off a little form Dark Wave and all minimal analog production, but these influences remain. But mainly I think our punk influence transpires in our music because of how we actually create music and because of how we envision live performance. While working on our songs, especially the lyrical and vocal aspects, a lot is improvised during the first stages of creation. We purposely write songs in such a way because imperfection that sprouts from such an approach is interesting, fragile, human... We want to get in touch with such sounds and aesthetic tones. When actually rearranging what came out of those experimentations in a more complete song we definitely try to keep those fragile imperfections. They are more honest, direct. I guess that really is what we like in punk culture in general: artistic imperfection. We intend to retain this artistic imperfection in making an electronic/dance music, a genre that is too often over produced and too clean sounding. Also, we both really put a lot of importance on live performance. In some ways, one of the main reasons why we play music is for live performance. Performative catharsis is a great and complex feeling! We reflect upon it a lot, think about it a lot when we write songs, put a lot of thought into it when it comes to our own performances. Minimal, raw, scary and violent performance associated to punk is what we strive for!"

You recently played several shows on the west coast. Any plans for the mid-west or east coast? Also, if you were to set expectations for an Exotic Club live show, what would you say?

- "Well it's interesting, when not working with a professional booker and booking your own shows, most connections you make out of Portland are West Coast concentrated. The network of connections for shows works really well from Seattle all the way down to LA though and we've had great shows all up and down the West Coast. The next step is expanding! We are really eager to tour after the release of our upcoming LP. We'd love to do an actual full US tour. We've also never really visited much of the rest of the states as adults. It would be a great new experience. After that we would also love to do a European tour. We've already toured France, but Britain, Germany, Eastern Europe would be great. We feel we've recently found a good live way of performing the songs that will be on our up-coming album. A balanced punk and sonically demanding set that we feel is starting to meet the expectations we had when we started Exotic Club. We've actually developed most of the LP by playing those songs live. We will keep our shows punk and raw, as I was mentioning earlier. With a minimal, yet thought through scenography. "

You are now in the process of working on your LP? Will Crash Symbols be the label for this? When can we expect it to be released?

- "These days we are really focused on finishing mixing and recording the vocals for the LP. We have all the material written and recorded. It's really fun and interesting. The next step will be trying to figure out who can help us with the release and promotion. We aren't quite set on anything yet. We will really start making those decisions ounce the record is finished and we are happy with the result. We are pretty sure the LP will be entitled 'SUNLESS'. We will hopefully be done recording and mixing soon, in a month at most. And then from there it will all depend who we end up working with to release it. But hopefully it can be expected before next summer!"

I am definitely looking forward to the next release. Besides the obvious places like facebook and Bandcamp, where can one go to purchase your music? Are there any record stores that carry the tape locally or across the country?

- "The best place to buy our cassette is directly on the Crash Symbols Bandcamp site (http://crashsymbols.bandcamp.com/). And of course you can find it digitally on all major digital distributors. We know for a fact it's also available at Jackknife Records in LA and at Control Voltage in Portland. We are also working to get it distributed in a couple different indie music stores around the Portland area."
Exotic Club interview
January 9, 2014
Brutal Resonance

Exotic Club

Jan 2014
Throughout December I had a chance to chat with two really nice and talented synth-punkers, Rémi & Simon from France, who are now making music in Portland, USA under the moniker Exotic Club.

How did you and Simon, two native Parisans, end up in Portland of all places in the USA?

- "We both met in middle school in Paris. We started playing music together in garage bands and got interested in playing noise garage really loud and tried out performance for the first time together.
We then stopped playing music together for a couple of years ; but we both continued sharing tunes, listening to music together and feeding off of each others new musical finds! After finishing college we both took a year off and headed to Portland where one of us (Simon) has family."

Does the name Exotic Club tie into a certain industry Portland is known for?

- "Well, upon our moving to Portland for the first time in 2011 prior to starting Exotic Club the very particular atmosphere of strip clubs interested us. It's not only that full nude strip clubs are all over Portland. But they are also just funky dive bars that never see the light of day. They are absurd bizarre environments.
But Strip clubs, were just one of the elements of a bigger general cultural shock for us. One of us (Simon) is half American but had never lived in the states, and the other (Remi) had never visited the US prior to our moving in 2011. Evaluating, misunderstanding, learning how to be a part of different American sub cultures and youth subcultures is what characterizes our original stay in Portland. Getting lost in 'Exoticness' is what we dealt with; and this is when we started talking about starting an electronic duo!"

The band was active in Paris and continues now in the US, when you and Simon moved?

- "We started putting out ideas and songs and played our first shows when we moved back to Paris for a year in 2012 before moving back to Portland for good. During that transition year back in our home country we lived together, started buying analogue synths and experimented with sounds and song production together. Our first ten shows were in France. But we missed the diverse DIY vibe and general atmosphere of Portland. We also missed being in a place where the stigma of being a broke ass musician that works in the service industry on the side is practically non existent. So we arranged to move back to the Pacific Northwest for good and started playing music together full time. The first couple months of being back in the states resulted in a debut EP, 'No Dance'."

How did you end up working with the Crash Symbols label?

- "Well, in early 2013, ounce our first set of songs was written and recorded, we started sending them out to labels. Dwight and Liz, the founders and owners of the West Virginia based label, seemed interested in helping us release our first real material as a band! It really seemed to us like they had a modern, dynamic and well thought view of what a small-scale label can bring to the 'post-modern' music industry that we nowadays evolve in. I believe they were starting to get more and more electronic projects on their label around that time. But they hadn't worked with a 'dark synth' inspired band that much yet. We also thought the tape format suited what we envisioned our first EP to be -- a mixtape, a collection of songs that arose in our search of finding our own themes, our own sounds ; rather than an actual 'concept album'."

Before I heard any of your music I noticed you worked with Matt Weiner of Featureless Ghost on the 'No Dance' cassette. This prompted me to look further into your music. Was this collaboration due to both artists being label mates?

- "Yes. This collaboration was due to being label mates. We were first put in contact for remixes. Matt remixed our track "Freaks". And then when the time came to master 'No Dance', Dwight of Crash Symbols suggested Matt. We had loved the remix he had done of our track, and we were really liking his music (TWINS and Featurless Ghost) He ended up doing a great job at mastering our EP! We're looking forward to work with him again in the near future!"

Your label describes your sound and lyrical content being derived from adjusting or transitioning to living in Portland from growing up in Paris. Are there deeper meanings to your songs like "Freaks" and "American Zombies"?

- "Well I mentioned earlier how a lot of our original experience in America in general, an in the Pacific Northwest in particular, was largely a free fall into getting caught in and bewildered by a certain 'exoticness'. A constant palpable sense of utter difference in ambiance and rhythm. And like all human experiences, getting lost in 'exoticness' meant good and bitter aspects. Exoticness of a new place, a new CULTURE. Youth subcultures, drug cultures in America are very different then where we grew up. Artists creating in those subcultures work in very different ways. In a more impulsive, raw ways maybe? Some people call it DIY... We believe that most of the songs on this EP are a direct result of our personal understanding of these cultural differences, a result of how living in such a different culture has affected us. But there is a deeper meaning: that meaning lies in how our PERSONAL experience of these cultural differences has affected us emotionally, sonically ; and how those emotions and sounds can hopefully relate to a variety of human emotions we all feel! We don't want to go much further into details on how that actually transpires in the music if that's alright. I hope we're not too cryptic."

What is/was the hardest transition from working in the French music scene to working with the US music scene? Did you have any help from others outside of Crash Symbols?

- "In a lot of ways working in the US music scene was easier. That is, apart from the inconveniences of having just moved to a new place: like finding good spots to play, good bands to share bills with, etc. But the socio-economic structures that organize the distribution, broadcasting and promotion are quite different. French "Culture" is very institutionalized, very well subsidized by a ministry specifically assigned to distributing money to non profits that organize shows, concerts, film screenings, contemporary art shows... We actually love this about our home country. And we both miss a lot of benefits that come with such a system like, for instance, we miss being able to choose from 30 to 40 different films from half a dozen different countries when we go to the movies in Paris, and for less than $5! But with such an institutionalization come some perks, especially in Music and live performance. The 'good' venues book mainly bands from the States, they are institutionalized subsidized venues that resemble more a Contemporary art Museum than a punk venue where you can puke in a corner and drop acid. Paris lacks in DIY venues. House shows are essentially non existent in Paris. On the contrary, Portland offered us quite the opposite! Also, a lot of people were very helpful. Especially when it came to touring the West Coast. We found collectives in Seattle, San Francisco, Oakland that helped us get great gigs in a variety of venues: galleries, clubs, warehouses, anarchist squats... We also believe we are starting to get a pretty accurate view of were and with which local bands we like to perform live."

Your style has been described as synth-punk. You definitely hear a punk influence laced into the fabric of your compositions on 'No Dance'. What influences lead you into this direction?

- "Well we always have listened to punk, the two of us. As Teenagers we were really into the late 70's New York CBGB scene, and No Wave. Especially Richard Hell and the Voidoids. Also we really got interested in live performance and experimental elements in popular music through proto-punk : mainly The Stooges and The Velvet Underground. Also we got interested in making electronic music, in many ways, through Dark Wave and New Wave, electronic genres that branched out of the huge impact punk culture made on music! We are currently branching off a little form Dark Wave and all minimal analog production, but these influences remain. But mainly I think our punk influence transpires in our music because of how we actually create music and because of how we envision live performance. While working on our songs, especially the lyrical and vocal aspects, a lot is improvised during the first stages of creation. We purposely write songs in such a way because imperfection that sprouts from such an approach is interesting, fragile, human... We want to get in touch with such sounds and aesthetic tones. When actually rearranging what came out of those experimentations in a more complete song we definitely try to keep those fragile imperfections. They are more honest, direct. I guess that really is what we like in punk culture in general: artistic imperfection. We intend to retain this artistic imperfection in making an electronic/dance music, a genre that is too often over produced and too clean sounding. Also, we both really put a lot of importance on live performance. In some ways, one of the main reasons why we play music is for live performance. Performative catharsis is a great and complex feeling! We reflect upon it a lot, think about it a lot when we write songs, put a lot of thought into it when it comes to our own performances. Minimal, raw, scary and violent performance associated to punk is what we strive for!"

You recently played several shows on the west coast. Any plans for the mid-west or east coast? Also, if you were to set expectations for an Exotic Club live show, what would you say?

- "Well it's interesting, when not working with a professional booker and booking your own shows, most connections you make out of Portland are West Coast concentrated. The network of connections for shows works really well from Seattle all the way down to LA though and we've had great shows all up and down the West Coast. The next step is expanding! We are really eager to tour after the release of our upcoming LP. We'd love to do an actual full US tour. We've also never really visited much of the rest of the states as adults. It would be a great new experience. After that we would also love to do a European tour. We've already toured France, but Britain, Germany, Eastern Europe would be great. We feel we've recently found a good live way of performing the songs that will be on our up-coming album. A balanced punk and sonically demanding set that we feel is starting to meet the expectations we had when we started Exotic Club. We've actually developed most of the LP by playing those songs live. We will keep our shows punk and raw, as I was mentioning earlier. With a minimal, yet thought through scenography. "

You are now in the process of working on your LP? Will Crash Symbols be the label for this? When can we expect it to be released?

- "These days we are really focused on finishing mixing and recording the vocals for the LP. We have all the material written and recorded. It's really fun and interesting. The next step will be trying to figure out who can help us with the release and promotion. We aren't quite set on anything yet. We will really start making those decisions ounce the record is finished and we are happy with the result. We are pretty sure the LP will be entitled 'SUNLESS'. We will hopefully be done recording and mixing soon, in a month at most. And then from there it will all depend who we end up working with to release it. But hopefully it can be expected before next summer!"

I am definitely looking forward to the next release. Besides the obvious places like facebook and Bandcamp, where can one go to purchase your music? Are there any record stores that carry the tape locally or across the country?

- "The best place to buy our cassette is directly on the Crash Symbols Bandcamp site (http://crashsymbols.bandcamp.com/). And of course you can find it digitally on all major digital distributors. We know for a fact it's also available at Jackknife Records in LA and at Control Voltage in Portland. We are also working to get it distributed in a couple different indie music stores around the Portland area."
Jan 09 2014

Luke Jacobs

info@brutalresonance.com
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance

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Started in spring 2009, Brutal Resonance quickly grew from a Swedish based netzine into an established International zine of the highest standard.

We cover genres like Synthpop, EBM, Industrial, Dark Ambient, Neofolk, Darkwave, Noise and all their sub- and similar genres.

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