Taking you on a journey with this one. Deep breath..
DD Phil, you are half of ZenBat, and live in Athens, a very tense environment. Has the current cultural and political upheaval influenced this release?
P Of course. it affects our life. The economical struggle, the cut off of salaries, pensions, people next to you that are losing their jobs… It isn’t possible to not have an impact on me. I can’t separate my every day life from my music, I never did. I’m here, my feet are on the ground, I have anger, sadness, the will to fight and I fight to gain back the real moments of a life that drowns in apathy. Music is one of the vehicles, one of the ways to do that.
DD Individually you are Zenjungle and Crazy Old Bat. What do each of you bring to this duo?
P Phil Gardel (Zenjungle) My main instrument is the saxophone. It’s my voice. Apart from that I mix the sax with electronics, I like to create sounds from nothing and to not use samples or factory presets. In the EP, our work was 50-50. One of us would start a song and send the stems to the other. Then the other was playing on it or creating something totally different from that. It was very fun and a great experience to work with Don, and there was good communication between us. In a few words, I played sax, synths and used my voice. Also, I created the artwork for our EP.
D Don Wilkins (Crazy Old Bat): I think both Phil and I have seen way too many films, the language of cinema infects our process, both as individuals and in our collaborations. This is very apparent on the ZenBat EP, songs like, “At The Cinema (Death in a Parking Lot),” and, “Death is Overrated,” could have been ripped out of a movie, as far as I’m concerned. We both have a similar approach to music, but as an individual I guess I bring a certain skewed perspective to the project, just a way of approaching electronics, I suppose.
DD How do you guys interpret the meaning of this EP?
P History is repeating itself; fascism, wars, economical crisis. It’s happening, transformed to something else sometimes, but it’s happening. People fight or soak into misery. The story of the EP is our decade illustrated, our past and our future. It’s also the dream of a better world, a life that is not ours, a world that we must build from scratch, a world in which we’ve chosen our leaders and put our hopes on them, proven that it was a mistake, proven that we needed to believe in ourselves. Our escape from reality is to build a new reality, beyond and against religion, hate, exploitation, injustice and a materialistic lifestyle. It was good that our spaceship crashed eventually.
D I wrote the story that accompanies the EP, but I didn’t intend it to be didactic. I just view it as one of many possible ways of interpreting our current reality and our past/future. I personally don’t believe that we learn anything from history, but it is interesting to try and discern the patterns and allow them to shape your existence. Like the wicked witch says, “I’m melting.”
DD What got each of you into electronic music?
P The great electro stuff of the late 80’s. The new wave synthpop, dark, gothic songs of the early nineties and of course the great mid 90’s period of the rave movement. A period that is rather blurred into my mind for obvious reasons. I started experimenting with synths and electronic sounds in the mid 90’s, I never stopped, but there were periods that I was playing and listening to mostly free jazz of the 70’s.
D I really don’t know, I started out as a drummer and then became fascinated by electronic music, the possibilities with today’s technology are truly limitless, which is both good and bad. The ability to trick the listener with an electronic palette is something I find attractive, it’s just another way to mess around with identity.
DD What’s next for the two of you? Together and/or individually?
P I will continue creating music with Don, that’s for sure. Apart from that I have a very good collaboration with an Irish guitarist and electronic artist, Tunedin52/John Daly who is also the narrator in the ZenBat EP, and we’ve already released two experimental jazz albums together, available here and here
D I’ve got a few projects I’m working on, including an audio/video project with Phil and John. I don’t like to predict the future, everything has a funny way of going to hell, but I’ve been lucky to have been able to create my own music and work with people like Phil.
Zenjungle – Soundcloud
– Jimi Jaxon