A Conversation: The Music of Data Romance
Data Romance is a Vancouver based duo composed of multi-instrumentalist/producer Ajay Bhattacharyya and singer/lyricist Amy Kirkpatrick. Meshed between the ambient, electronic and lyrically charged, the music of Data Romance seamlessly weaves through different moods and textures to create an aura of beautiful ambivalence that pulls and tugs at the corners of your memories and desires.
Bennett: Thank you for taking the time to chat with me guys. Right off the bat, I know you guys are based out of British Columbia, but forgive me for asking where exactly is that?
Amy Kirkpatrick: We’re from Victoria which is in British Columbia.
So tell me, how did you guys meet?
We met through mutual friends in high school. We were kind of in the same music scene. Long story short, Jay started sending me these kind of instrumental tracks that he was working on. More electronic stuff. It was really laid back at first and none of us had made that sort of music before and within the last couple of years it started getting really serious.
What is the musical climate of British Columbia (or at least in regards to your community) right now?
AK: There’s a really diverse music community in BC that sort of meshes together, I think, because of the lack of smaller venues. But that’s almost what’s so great about it. If you go to see a more electronic dance band, there might be a quiet/chill act or even completely different style opening for them. I think it opens people’s minds a little more to the idea of falling for a new style of music they didn’t think they’d be into. I think in a smaller community like Vancouver’s scene, the lines are a little more blurred because most bands are up for supporting each other, no matter the style. Just as long it’s good music.
I’ve been listening to you guys this past week and I have to say I just love the way your music is almost ethereal while still maintaining a heaviness about it, especially with Amy’s vocals. How do you guys come together to work on a new idea for a potential song?
Ajay Bhattacharyya: It’s changed recently. That happened pretty much in the same room. We kind of came up with an idea, first instrumentally and then with the vocals. It used to be purely over the internet. We used to send stuff back and forth and there was a weird disconnect there and for the new record we figured we had to challenge ourselves in some way, mix it up so we just don’t get stagnant and do the same thing over and over again.
You said there was a “disconnect”, which I can completely understand and appreciate. The disconnect that comes from sending stuff online between people when you’re trying to create something.
AK: Yeah and that’s kind of what determined our sound in the beginning. It wasn’t trying to be something it wasn’t. That’s just what we were doing at the time. I was in my world and Jay was in his own world. Even to this day that sort of disconnect is what makes us sort of unique.
I’ve heard a little bit of the new record Other and I really like what I’m hearing. Is this record an indication of how you guys have matured musically? Without listening to the material you put out in 2010, there is a sense of maturity and cohesiveness about it.
AB: I’m glad that comes across. I think it’s definitely the most adult record we have ever made. I dunno what that is. It’s a good indication of where we wanna go. its not the record you throw on a party because it can get lost in the background, theres a lot of layers to it, sonically I mean.
AK: I was listening to it actually earlier today thinking the exact same thing. It could get lost and if people might just look through each song, but if they actually took the time to sit and listen to the story and the soundscapes, I think they would get a lot more out of it.
And I think that is definitely something that is lost in current modern music, like you said, the story aspect of it. You’re telling a story and it becomes more meaningful that way instead of just anthems that don’t really pertain to any experience or human condition.
AK: For sure. There aren’t any songs about the club, or putting your drinks up kind of stuff. There are definitely stories and lots of time and love that went into this album.
AB: It’s hard to keep people’s attention when it comes to telling stories. That’s one of the biggest challenges and keeping someone’s interest throughout the whole record can be tough. I mean 40 minutes is a long time.
Of course. It seems like people are more fickle with music these days, because there is such an abundance of it.
AB: Exactly. I find myself being like that too. It’s kind of tough. I’ve come to the realization that I made a record that takes time to get into, and for me to listen to a record all the way through, is hard. So the fact that I made one that kind of requires that, is a little critical or egotistical or whatever, but it’s how it came out naturally. We just didn’t have it in us to make a quick digestable record. It just wasn’t us.
Speaking of modern music, what kind of stuff do you guys enjoy listening to?
AK: I have a problem where I stick in a small bubble of music. I like the older stuff like Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald, Johnny Cash and that’s where I get a lot of my inspiration from. I would love to be able to write one of those timeless songs one day that could have been written fifty years ago or today. I get a lot of inspiration from strong women.
AB: I kind of think of myself as the opposite. I find myself listening to blogs more than I listen to actual music. I have 2 or 3 that will make me go haywire but they’ll give me new people coming out constantly and it kind of gives me a good idea of what people are doing and what’s new and exciting and it shows me music in terms of trends and genres and movements rather than individual artists. A lot of the stuff from the UK is blowing my mind right now, like Jessie Ware is really incredible, James Blake, The XX and Asap Rocky is really great.
It’s crazy to think of how people are getting their info from blogs now, not radio or advertisements on television. Artists like Asap Rocky are on this monumental climb because of it.
AB: And especially because of the people who you align yourself with like Asap Rocky who has worked with some amazing producers. He’s never made a bad choice.
In terms of how it would make someone feel, how would you guys describe this album as making someone feel?
AK: Honestly I hope it makes them feel something! If they can connect to a song that makes them get sad or happy, that’s what I really want.
Amy: Honestly, we’re always writing music. I’m usually either in coffee shops, or writing at home late night. Jay does the same with his production work. Or I’m out with friends, meeting people, trying to have new experiences. I can’t write unless I have new ideas to write about, so I think getting yourself into bits of trouble is healthy for your creative mind. I can almost always justify a night out because I guarantee in the very least I’ll get some lyrics out of it at 4am.
Big plans for this year?
AB: (to Amy) What do we wanna do?
AB: We definitely wanna tour, but it’s a lot of us actually getting out there. We kind of hidden in 2012. We were in studios and recording booths and just kind of under the radar, so to speak, for any public we didn’t release much and I just want to have this year focus on the exposure of the stuff we spent so much time making in 2012.
Okay guys last one. Tell me about a strange incident/something that happened to you while you were on tour or performing live.
AK: Most of the really interesting ones I’ll have to save for a tell-all novel down the road. On the Identity Festival tour, I was taking a nap one day when I had the tour bus to myself (which is a rarity sharing it with 11 men), and I heard these gigging girls opening the bus door and walking in. I sort of poked my head out and said “Can I help you?” They tried to convince me they were friends with Kaskade (who was headlining the tour), and were grilling me about where to find him. After politely asking them to leave, which they wouldn’t, they asked me, “how’s life being a groupie?” As if they were proud of it, thinking I had broken onto the bus myself. At that point the Modeselektor men, who we were sharing the bus with came on and shoved them off in a very kick-ass no questions kinda way. My heroes. “How’s life being a groupie?”..ick!