Long live rock, I need it every night

Thursday, March 12, 2009

SXSW Spotlight: Carol Bui

Leading up to SXSW, we're highlighting some bands and even doing some interviews, something we rarely do for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, we're lazy. Second, tend to insult the bands who graciously agree to answer our questions. Once again, our apologies to Jukebox the Ghost for saying you play "dork-assed music for dorks" and to the 1990s for suggesting all Scots were cheap bastards. We'll try to do better next time.

[photo by shervin lainez]

The first band in the SXSW spotlight: Carol Bui! Carol and the guys kick things off at the premier pre-SXSW party: The Art Disaster no. 8 party Tuesday night at the Beauty Bar. On Wednesday she'll play Stomp & Stammer’s First Annual Last Party Ever followed by the DC Does TX Party at Friends Bar. Now, onto the interview:

DCRC: Was last year the first time you've played SXSW? What was that experience like?

CB: I actually didn't play last year. I was supposed to do the DC Does TX show as part of a tour, but the tour fell through and I ended up not making it to Austin after all. I've played shows in that town before, just not at SXSW, though I have hung out at the festival before.

DCRC: With all the craziness and jockeying for attention, is SXSW something musicians actually enjoy? Is it all business or can you take time to be a music fan?

CB: I haven't played SXSW yet, but when I was there to hang out in '07, it felt like mardi gras - with all the people (a naked cowboy here and there), music, and alcohol. I personally enjoyed it but I was there as just a music fan. We'll see how next week goes!

DCRC: The latest song you posted, "Mira You're Free With Me", is a bit of a departure from the songs off of Everyone Wore White. How did it come about?

CB: I started playing drums a little over a year ago and as a result, started thinking more rhythmically. I think Mira was a song that was built around a drum beat, a beat that I kind of stole from some Arabic music I'd been listening to. I took the traditional beat, played it on a full drum kit instead of tablas, and made it swing a little.

DCRC: What have you been up to lately? Are you working on a new album?

CB: I am indeed working on a new album! I've spent a lot of this past year writing and playing drums, which has changed the way I think about songwriting quite a bit. I've done a lot of learning and growing up too, musically and personally. My close friend Mary and I started a new band called Lucia, Lucia where our friend Jason and I back her up as the rhythm section. It was a way for us to get more comfortable with our new instruments - vox and guitar for her and drums for me. I've also been really into my belly dance classes, and that certainly affects my writing.

DCRC: What bands or musicians are on heavy rotation at your place? Have any of them influenced your music?

CB: Natacha Atlas and yes, she is a huge influence right now. She puts traditional Arabic elements with western pop together, so the music is both exotic and addictive. I've also explored her influences, some of the most popular singers in the arab world like Fairuz and Oum Kalthoum. The belly dance training puts everything into perspective. That's why my new material is so rhythm and percussion-heavy, and because of Natacha I'm no longer too self conscious to let my vocals be more emotive and expressive. It feels great.

DCRC: Talk about your band. Who are the guys and how long have you been playing together?

CB: I play with many different talented people. Next week, Mark Raymond and Aaron Leitko will be playing the Austin shows with me. Mark and I have been playing together since '06, and Aaron has played 1 show with us so far. Mark is a fantastic drummer - he's got this great loose style that is loud and jazzy at the same time, very don caballero but I dunno...catchier? and more bad ass? Aaron has played in a few bands around here, his latest is S PRCSS with Justin Moyer and some dudes out in Philly. His bass playing is as bad ass as Mark's drumming - I think he was a jazz band kid turned punk rock in college. Something like that.

DCRC: I read that you quit your day job, started playing the drums, and did some traveling. My question: Can I be you? Because all that sounds quite nice.

CB: It could happen with a little surgery and penny pinching, and maybe if you give away a little bit of your soul. Sure, anything can happen. And yes, it is quite nice.

Thanks to Carol for answering our questions and acknowledging my transgender dreams. Now enjoy a sampling of some of my favorite Bui tunes:


Jimbromski said...

I gotta get involved in that belly dance class scene somehow, maybe as a sort of adjunct instructor

Jimbromski said...

also, how do you pronounce her last name? I always think it's Carol Boo-ey, like Baba Booey, but that can't be right.

Jumbo Slice said...

I'm still not used to your new profile picture. It startles me every time.

The last name is pronounced "Bwee" not "Boo-ey".

Cut to Carol in front of an unruly crowd: "They're not saying 'boo.' They're saying 'boo-ey!' 'Boo-ey!'".

Anonymous said...

After reading that interview I can see two reasons to go see her play--and it ain't the drummer and bass player.