Interview with Twintapes

Electro-Pop with a DIY-Ethic

By: Corinne Bagish

April 25, 2014

"I remain optimistic about the idea that people will always prefer an organic performance as opposed to DJ tracks, lip-syncing, music from a laptop, and all those 'fads' that seek perfection and replication of recorded music on stage."

Brooklyn trio Twintapes doesn't take the easy way out. Although their bread and butter is plush, danceable electro-pop, they perform sans laptops. And it's clearly something they're proud of -- the lack of computers is one of the first things mentioned on their social pages. Performance-wise, this laptop-free commitment takes the form of a collaborative chain reaction: singer/frontman Pavel Rivera initiates sounds to all-analog synth player Landon Knoblock. From there, Benny Reiner adds rhythm with an electric/acoustic melded drum set. This unique DIY-electro approach has paid off. Twintapes celebrated the release of single and subsequent video “Everyday Chemical” in mid-March, and headlined a show this April at Mercury Lounge.


What makes your live performance different from the majority of electro bands out there?

We don’t use laptops or pre-recorded tracks to enhance our sound. We perform everything live and aim for a more pure and raw electronic sound.  By doing this, we don’t feel enslaved to the pre-programed material coming out of a laptop and instead we are free to change things up while on stage, which I feel makes it more fun and helps us connect better with our audience. 

Additionally, we are obsessed with our musical arrangements; we want to make sure that the instrument parts we each play work well together and result in a sound that’s simple and easy to digest. 

Technology is obviously ever-evolving -- where do you see the future of electro music heading? Any predictions?

I think there’s a lot of room for innovation and blends of genres and sounds. For instance, I like synths because they allow me to create new sounds that aren’t possible to make with guitars, bass or acoustic drums. 

While I can’t predict what’ll happen in the future, I remain optimistic about the idea that people will always prefer an organic performance as opposed to DJ tracks, lip-syncing, music from a laptop, and all those “fads” that seek perfection and replication of recorded music on stage. Nothing against DJs—I love many of them, but I tend to get bored when I see them live. And I hope that artists will find a way to match the punch and excitement of massively produced DJ tracks, but with live sounds and performances. I think it’s more honest, real and human that way. 

The video for "Everyday Chemical" is pretty dark. What was the inspiration behind it?

This single was born this past winter, and it was one of the darkest winters I’ve ever experienced. That inevitably affects the mood of the music I write. The inspiration came from my unfocused behavior due to computer use, social media, cellphone, Instagramming, etc. I felt like I was never fully experiencing moments in my life and I was getting addicted to these gadgets. I thought it’d make a good subject for a song, so I wrote this song about addiction. 

Pavel, you went to school for music, and you play traditional instruments like the guitar. What made you decide to take Twintapes in the electronic direction? 

I’ve been playing guitar for 21 years now, and while I’ve become very technically proficient throughout the years I’ve also found that I’ve lost a sense of wonder about the instrument. Things can start to feel formulaic and mathematical. With a synthesizer, on the other hand, I feel the child-like spirit and sense of discovery coming back to me. I’m constantly messing around and exploring new sounds and making sonic accidents that are awakening me creatively. Besides, I was born in the ‘80s and heard a lot of Depeche Mode while growing up. The electronic sound has a nostalgic effect on me.

What's your creative process like? Any new music in the works?

I get stimulated from books, films, music, traveling, and conversations with friends and family. As far as sound and melodic content goes, my mind has to be in a calm and quiet place where I just enjoy the process of playing an instrument. Lyrics usually come second and are inspired by themes from everyday life and topics that I find fascinating. For instance: technology, addiction, human psychology, relationships, society and trends. I’ll usually hum a melody and put placeholder words to it. Then I’ll try to fit in better words. Lately, I have been collaborating with my girlfriend on the lyrics. She’s a writer and usually has great ideas for lines and words that flow well. Then, I’ll record everything and produce it. The whole process requires a level of patience to the point that it hurts, but in the end it’s worth the journey. 

There is new music in the works. We’re playing some new tunes live that have not been recorded yet, which is kind of a reverse process of how we usually do it.