Does a Straw Have One or Two Holes? A Q + A With the Experimental Collagists of Paradot

Photo courtesy of the artists’ Facebook page

A few weeks ago, Bored In Pittsburgh featured the song “Rocksalt” off the recently released Vain Zanni Cave (Black Mountain Airport) by the NY-via-LA electronic duo Paradot. The album is a truly strange listening experience, featuring a series of off-kilter beats and sonic sketches that sound like they’re being corroded by acid and/or eaten by swarms of bugs; brief melodic passages hearken back to the grainy textures of early Boards of Canada. Turned out that Paradot was touring with Justice Yeldham (an Australian who makes music by running his mouth over amplified sheets of glass), so I got to see them play a set at 3577 Studios in Polish Hill. Emilía and Joey (the two Paradot members) were kind enough to do a quick Q+A, featured below.

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Who/what is Paradot? A mission statement for the project, if you will.  

Emilía: Paradot is a band of two (Jodoli n me) started in Brooklyn in 2017 and now based in Los Angeles. Right now we’re a musical project, making things one might categorize as experimental electronic, but we’re both artists working in mediums other than music (visual, performance, sound art) so we hope as the project progresses it will mean Paradot is a visual art collective or a performance art duo, or whatever happens. We imagine Paradot as an umbrella term for all our collaborations in various forms

Vain Zanni Cave

I’ll get the cliché question out of the way first; who/what are some of your influences, musical or otherwise?

E: Alexander Shulgin, video game sounds, the Tarot, geothermal activity, the Internet, trash on the street.

There are some seriously bizarre sounds on your latest album. What kinds of gear/instruments/processes did you use to create them?

E: Most of the compositions on the new record are collages. We separately gathered an armful of samples, drum sequences, synth patches, and various loops – and collaged them together in a way that made some semblance of sense. I call our music sample-based, which is true in a compositional/performative sense but most of the samples we use are our own, either mangled field recordings or weird instrumentive loops.

Inspiration for the next Paradot record??

The few found samples are worth mentioning though – one I really like is bits of this Christian self-help tape I found in a dilapidated shack in the middle of the desert. 

What/where is Vain Zanni Cave? Is it a real location, a fictional place, a state of mind, or some combination of all three?

E: It’s not a logical location or state of mind, just a combination of symbols that when smashed together attempt to say something about ego, Beginner’s Mind, and womblike sensory deprivation. The textures that appear in caves are so intricate, and they form in total darkness – I guess it’s a visual stand-in for what we were trying to paint musically, the habitat of the cave where this egoistic Fool-ish Pierrot character dwells

Conductor (Paradot’s 2018 debut) consisted of a series of improvisations (Joey described it as a concept album); was the recording process for Vain Zanni also spontaneous, or were the tracks sketched out beforehand?

E: This one wasn’t really improvisational in the recording process, pretty much the opposite of Conductor – which was very ‘play first, edit later.’ The process with VZC was kind of an editing conundrum from the beginning.

Joey: Water itself isn’t wet, that’s just the state of water… water can make things wet but water itself isn’t wet… it’s water. Something would have to be dry before it could be wet…you know? Does a straw have one or two holes?

Photo courtesy of the group’s Bandcamp page

You recorded Conductor in New York and Vain Zanni Cave in Los Angeles. Do you feel like the music on each is tied to a sense of place?

E: Conductor was definitely location-dependent, because it really felt like Brooklyn was the birthplace of Paradot and of our collaboration in general, and this Conductor character showed up during that time so it reminds me of NYC in the winter. I don’t know how tied to location Vain Zanni Cave is but it just might be one of those things that is only clear in retrospect and nostalgia. 

How did you link up with the legendary Justice Yeldham for the current tour?

E: Like every modern true love story, we met on Instagram… haha, we’d been fans of his work for a while and he posted about needing an opener for what would be his last US tour, he ended up choosing us. We lucked out because he ended up being an angel and really fun to tour with

Justice Yeldham in action (yes, blood is often involved)
Picture courtesy of https://heathenharvest.org

What is your favorite city that you’ve played in and why? I won’t ask least favorite because we don’t want rub anyone the wrong way.  

E: San Francisco is always great, I used to live there so I feel very at home. Also really dig Atlanta

Joey: New Orleans?

Any Los Angeles (or New York) artists that are worth checking out for those who like Paradot’s music?

E: FM (Flaccid Mojo) is based in LA, which is Bjorn and Aaron from Black Dice. We love them

Is there anything else that I forgot to ask or that you’d like to share about yourselves or your music?

E: Thank you for listening! We hope to be back in Pittsburgh soon


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Thanks to Emilia and Joey for their time

Make sure to check out Paradot’s music at https://parad0t.bandcamp.com/

and follow them on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/parad0t/

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