Duck Duck Punch & Friends on the set of RGB. photo credit: Davin Haukebo-Bol
The other day while I was at work a friend of mine had me watch Duck Duck Punch‘s first video, RGB. The video was awesome (and gross) and the music was great. By the time the video was over I knew I wanted to interview them for The Queer and Now. Bryan Rudell was nice enough to answer a few of my questions for me.
Q: In the book, Camp: Queer Aesthetics and the Performing Subject, Fabio Cleto writes, “Camp has the power to force attention onto bodies in a culture that seems increasingly interested in burying, suppressing, or transcending them.” Your first video, RGB, made me think about the relationship of the grotesque to camp and definitely confronted viewers with the realities of bodies. What was your thought process in creating that video?
A: The concept for RGB had been kicking around in my head since 2009. I guess, the whole goal of the video was to do 2 things: be “interesting” enough that it would be worth sharing online, and evoke a little wtf power. The song is about finding comfort through a digital screen. Maybe it’s watching Amélie to feel good, or pumping up your ego on twitter, or getting off on xtube — it’s just a component of our culture. That said, it’s not physical. It’s not real life. The video has a bunch of distortion to emphasize the medium — it’s a video. You’ve got these cute girls popping up, but they’re not actually real — they’re just moving pixels in a video.
The climax is just deconstructing every other video selling sex & pretty women — we’re just making a joke of the “sex sells” philosophy.
Q: Your songs have a synth feeling that brings me back to groups like Duran Duran and Depeche Mode. Are you creating that sound in a similar manner to those bands? What’s the deal with the whole analog vs. digital debate? Do you guys take a side on that?
A: Those are in among my top 3 favorite bands, so they heavily influence my style. Depeche Mode has actually had an interesting career because they’ve been through the analog > digital > analog cycle. Though we record / mix / add effects with a computer, we primarily record with analog synthesizers and tube preamps. Analog & digital both have their advantages/disadvantages, but I’m partial to analog. Speaking specifically about synthesizers, I’d just never truly loved any of the digital ones I’ve had. It’s a personal preference, but I think it’s easy for digital synths to sound too “perfect,” whereas I like less-than-perfect instruments with less-than-perfect tuning & performance. It adds character, and that “warmth” everybody talks about.
Q: Will you talk a little bit about how being in your first gay relationship impacted your songwriting? How different would Human Chemistry be as an album if you hadn’t had that experience?
A: Absolutely. Human Chemistry would be a much different album if it hadn’t progressed along my first gay relationship. Even if some of the same relationship events happened and I was with a girl, it would be a completely different story — I honestly think one of the benefits of being in a homosexual relationship is understanding your partner. Gender does play a role in our human perspectives. Aside from that, I became completely comfortable with my sexuality. Finding that “meant to be” relationship with the man I’d always dreamed of gave me the confidence to write about things like closeted gay culture, which is the theme of “Degenerate Public.”
Q: There’s a little bit of unease/trauma in the lyrics of your songs. How do you decide what to write about?
A: Life. Things that happened to us or people we cared about — it’s much easier for me personally to write about things that carry emotional weight. It just happened to be a few years packed with some volatile moments. I did write a song about falling in love with my fiancé, but it didn’t really fit with the rest in the end. The album thematically evolved after 6 or 7 songs were recorded—I noticed they all had to do with the way humans interact with one another, and how those interactions influence our brain chemistry. It just also happened to be kind of pessimistic.
Q: Duck Duck Punch got its start in Duluth, MN, right? Do people get into electropop up there?
A: I love Duluth, but I kind of don’t love Duluth music culture. It’s very much secluded to its own folk bubble. That’s the big thing, there — people worship it. (I… do not.) There were some rock/punk things going on with synths, and some EDM kids, but there was really nobody else doing what we were doing. I guess it made us stand out a little more, though.
Q: Anything else you want to tell The Queer and Now readers?
A: Thanks for taking the time to read all the way down to this sentence, and we hope to meet you soon! Hi-fives all around!
For more Duck Duck Punch check out their website. Right now you can even download a 4-Pack of songs for free.