Makeup & Vanity Set interview/New Devo

March 1, 2010

Here we go: the first official artist interview on my little corner of the web. With his self-titled 3rd album coming out on March 16th and an album release show at the End March 14th, Makeup & Vanity Set made the perfect first interviewee.

SCLMS: Not get too cliche, but what piqued your interest in electronic music waaay back when?
MAVS: To be totally honest, it had a lot to do with the fact that I was just really into trying to figure out how to make the sounds. I can remember pretty vividly hearing songs back in the day as a young Putay, and just thinking ‘How do you make that?’ I really just wanted to find out how you could make music without the conventional methods of actual sounds and microphones. Electronic music was always this big mystery to me. Not a lot of people particularly cared about the genre where I grew up. It seemed sort of taboo. I guess in a way that also attracted me. It was different. I remember making super early jams with computers and putting them on tapes and handing them off to, like, my band teachers; they didn’t really have much to say about it. I think back then I was just excited about discovery.

SCLMS: When I first met you in college at MTSU, I remember you were making fairly experimental/unstructured/blippy/glitchy material, much like your current side project DAAS. Then suddenly Makeup & Vanity Set was born circa 2003, and I remember seeing you open for the Protomen at one of their 1st Boro shows and thinking “whoa! Pusti got all dance-tastic all of a sudden!” Then for several years you continued to push the more structured/dancey MAVS material, until last year when DAAS was born. What was going through your mind and what drove your transitions between styles between 2003 and now?
MAVS: The other day I was cleaning some stuff out of my house and I found the original piece of notebook paper from the class that I had with Cal where he drew the Protomen logo for the very first website we made. It all filled in with BIC ink pen. Like you can just picture him not paying any attention to class and just doodling this thing that ended up being a giant part of our lives for the next ten years. I basically started making New Order-y songs and recording bass guitar over them and sending them to Cal around that time. We were planning on recording some songs together. I would send him other stuff too. The other stuff wound up being Aesthetically Speaking. Cal wound up pretty much forcing me to open for them at the Boro because they needed another band to open and I think Cal was terrified of the selection of Boro bands at that point, so it was me. And I had never played a show by myself ever before that point. Makeup and Vanity Set, the name, was a joke about me not wanting to do it, really. The ski mask was me trying to haphazardly compete with the theatrics of the Protomen. The first ski mask belonged to my friend Norman Teale, who gave it to me before moving to Oakland. It seemed like an odd parting gift at the time.

SCLMS: What was your take on the success of Justice/the rise of bloghouse circa 2007? Because you were totally doing that shit way before they got famous with it.
MAVS: I think bloghouse is sorta mostly dead. I think it’s becoming a lot of other things. The best thing about bloghouse is that it literally reinvented the way that people get famous with electronic music. It allowed musicians to make jams faster, get them out faster, and operate in a much more compact way, which is awesome. At school, they used to always talk about how the rise of pro-level studio gear in people’s bedrooms is going to give rise to people making hit records with nothing. That’s a bunch of crap; no one is going to make Queen albums in their basement. It absolutely applies to electro music though. For the record, I used to compress the shit out of my songs simply because I didn’t know what I was doing and it made the drums sound tougher. That doesn’t really equate to Justice, but it does make really loud crazy 8 bit songs, almost ten years ago. For real.

SCLMS: People used to talk about how you made music in MS-DOS, by writing code. No visual interfaces, no linear sequencing, no keys to hit, just writing code to make a song. Is that totally true? If it is, can I eat some of your brain?
I used to get all wonky with Trackers back in the day. It’s not really code, but it is super nerdy. You would hit keys, but they were computer keys. It’s funny because a lot of the stuff that comes out now is so branched out of that. It’s not even funny.

SCLMS: What’s your take/philosophy on the live performance of electronic music?
MAVS: Playing live is interesting. It can be really painful. I’ve played shows where I’m pretty bored with it. It’s more technical than anything else, so after a few songs, if the crowd isn’t into it, you start feeling like you’re standing up there doing a power point presentation. I’ve always hated stages. I like being down on the floor with people. It feels better. I think I got really lucky by having a bunch of super awesome friends who would come to my shows and dance like crazy and fire strobe lights and smoke machines, and tear up baguettes with their shirts off, etc. My friends have made it so much easier to cope with.

SCLMS: What do you think of dubstep?
MAVS: I really hope it isn’t the next big deal. It’s been around for a while overseas, so it makes sense that all of the sudden it’s super big here, but I honestly get kinda bored with it. I remember as a kid, loaning my copy of Homework to a friend, who copied it to cassette in his bedroom while we were at school, and he came home to find out his Mom shut it off. He asked her why and she goes ‘Well, it was skipping.’ I think electronic music is moving into this super next level A.D.D. mode where the little motifs are getting shorter and the changes and craziness are getting faster and the whole thing is just pushing forward. When I want to hear something new, I usually just listen to whatever Oizo is doing.

SCLMS: Why do people like wobble bass? It basically sounds like a series of electronic farts most of the time, IMHO.
MAVS: I bet if it were called Fart Bass, people would like it less. Filters, man. People love filters. They just don’t know it.

SCLMS: What are your favorite style of jams to DJ?
Tough Jams.

So there you have it. Make sure to keep an eye on his official Bandcamp page to grab the new album, and if you’re in Nashville, you don’t want to miss the album release show at the End on March 14th with Magic Hammer, Anamanaguchi (NYC), Starscream, Sabrepulse, Henry Homesweet and a DJ set from our local beloved Penguin Parade (featuring 2 members of Left Can Dance). You can also buy a physical copy of the album at the release show. Meanwhile, here’s the track “Putay’s Back” to tide you over.

Makeup & Vanity Set-Putay’s Back

On a side note, it would be crazy to not mention that Devo has a new record coming out in May and they’ve released a free, legal mp3 of the song “Fresh” to the interwebs. Grab it at Nashville Nights! It actually kinda sounds like old-school Devo.

One Response to “Makeup & Vanity Set interview/New Devo”

  1. Maia Stedman Says:

    Hello just stumbled your site and have been reading some of your entries and just wondering why you chose a WordPress site dont you find it difficult to do anything with? Been thinking about starting one.

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