Friday, May 20, 2011

In Conversation: Sensual Harassment

 The Reptilian Humanoid alliance is back! The New York based trio Sensual Harassment have released their debut album in April and have stopped by for an interview in which they tell us more about their influences, live music, their future plans and how they developed their specific music style.  



Sensual Harassment Q-A
 1. What is the origin of your band name and who is Sensual Harassment?
I think it was literally just some dumb puns we were throwing around and instantly when we came upon the name ‘Sensual Harassment’ we knew it was right for us.  It was one of the few things we’ve never argued about.  Sensual Harassment are a couple of guys who are originally from the American South.  I think we appreciated the simplicity and some of the South’s traditions, but always wanted more.  We’re just culture junkies.  We’re always looking for new music, experience and inspiration, so right now New York is where we live to satisfy those needs. 
 2.  How did you guys meet and what did inspire you to make music together?
We’ve actually been playing music together for nearly a decade.  We met through mutual friends back in North Carolina.  When you meet other people who are as serious as you are about making music, it’s best just to stick with it. 
 3. Who do you consider as a major influence at the start of your musical career?
I think we were always influenced by bands who were doing something over the top or extreme.  The influence of Fugazi and the intensity of their live shows was huge.  Even though our music is quite different, that dedication to performance and putting on a show was very evident.  Sonically, we always liked bands that were pushing the envelope as well – when The Flaming Lips hit their stride with ‘Soft Bulletin’ and ‘Yoshimi’, we listened to those records all the time and got plenty of great ideas from that.
 4. What genre of music do you consider your work to be?  Main themes and topics of your songs…
The genre thing never made sense to us.  When you go into your record collection or your iTunes or whatever, you usually don’t go in and say “I want to hear electro or indie rock”.  Instead, it’s like: “I wanna hear a song that matches my mood or challenges me”.  It’s the same thing with making music – we just write how we feel and never think about the genre.  Our gear might seem very 80’s influenced at times (keyboards, drum machines) but we try and use it in new ways that are meaningful to us, not just replicate a genre. 
Topics and themes vary.  I think love, loss and partying usually covers most of our songs. 
 5. How do you promote your live shows and your music? What do you expect from your fits live shows?
We try and have our shows be themed around a party.  Lots of other bands, DJ’s, maybe free drinks or something.  We try and make a big event of it.  Ther are so many bands in NY that we try and stand out by having a lot of things going on to keep everyone entertained.  For example, we just got added to the Brooklyn-based Northside Festival where Guided By Voices and Surfer Blood will be playing.  We like to be a part of larger events where people are sure to find SOMETHING they like.
Same goes with our philosophy on performance.  We try and leave blood and guts on the stage when we’re through playing – really give 200%.  Nothing is worse than seeing a band who doesn’t even enjoy playing their own music. 
 6. Who are you trying to address and entertain with your music? 
Oddly enough, I think first and foremost we’re trying to make music to solve our own problems and make us feel better.  Writing songs is something we do out of necessity – it’s just an outlet for getting out our frustrations and expressing joy.  We never shoot for any audience.  We just feel that if we’re being 100% true to ourselves and our own feelings, other people are going to resonate with that.
 7. What do you miss in today’s music the most?
I think personally I miss vocal harmonies.  20th century American music did some amazing stuff with harmony.  Now people just overdub tons of instruments and somehow forget about vocal harmonies.  But when you hear it done correctly (Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkel), it makes the hairs on your arm stand up.  I’ve been listening to some folksy stuff lately like The Carter family – those are songs my parents used to sing when I was growing up and those vocal harmonies are seamless and so memorably human that it still holds up today. 
 8. What is your all time favorite record, song, album?
Wow, that’s difficult.   As a group, I think ‘OK Computer’ was a game changer for all of us.  I think that album showed us what was possible with music.  A complicated, thematic album that was pulled off so fluidly – and sonically it’s just exhilarating with such extremes.  Certainly a kind of ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ for our generation.  I’m not sure Radiohead ever came close after that.  It was just such a heavy album emotionally, and so rich musically.  It’s still quite a record to take in from beginning to end. 
 9. What do you listen to these days?
All over the place really.  We’re listening to The Walkmen, Gatekeeper, lots of 90’s house music, Gun Club and everything in between.  For us, it doesn’t matter if songs are new or old.  We just love exploring back catalogs, so we’re often unaware of what is “brand new”. 
 10. Any plans of further single releases, maybe an album?
We’re recording again in this month (May) and will hopefully release a couple of those songs soon.  For the rest of the year the focus is going to be on getting our music out there faster, so probably a few singles.  Albums are fun to make but take up a lot of time.  Sometimes it’s just more satisfying to get your ideas out there as soon as humanly possible.
 11. How can fans-to-be gain access to your music? Do you have a website with sample songs or a demo CD?
 Our website (http://www.sensualharassment.com) has our latest record streaming or available as a free download. We’re just interested in as many people hearing us as possible, so check us out!



Top 10 albums or songs that inspired you or you just love.
1. Flaming Lips – Soft Bulletin
2.  Slowdive - Souvlaki
3. The Walkmen – You and Me
4.  Morphine – Cure For Pain
5.  Neutral Milk Hotel – In The Aeroplane Over The Sea
6.  Radiohead – OK Computer
7. Giorgio Moroder catalog
8. Vangelis catalog
9. Daft Punk - Homework
10. The Misfits catalog

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