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Tuesday, April 13, 2010
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Koko Dozo: The Interview

By Jasper Gape


Koko Dozo is the best band EVA....okay best post disco band in my humble opinion because they exude the sweat and retro-ness of a purist disco band that your folks had the honor of enjoying while you were stuck at home with that one hot Latina babysitter that had to change your dirty diapers.

As strange as that analogy is, we felt in love with Koko Dozo the minute we heard 'Gangsta', a song about the adopted tough culture that is now ingrained into this generation's psyche.

Wow talk about an in-depth interview as Koko Dozo sure did deliver on the goods with this interview as we got to talk to Amy D and Polarity/1 about Disco, New York, Influences and feeling the Zuzu.

Hey guys thanks for talking to us here at Nerdy Frames, and thank you for being fans of our blog. So lets ask the both of you how it all began for Koko Dozo, how did you meet up and became this phenomenal band?

POLARITY/1: I think 'how it all began" and "how we became this..." are two totally different questions. We met through our friend, Rubio. We each had side projects with him and he thought we'd make a great team. We recorded our first album, ILLEGAL SPACE ALIENS, with him. Then he moved to Bogota and we became a duo. Our music is like it is because we've spent lots o' years being musicians playing zillions of types of music cause we're into a strangely wide variety of species. And we spend a crazy amount of time drafting our stuff.

AMY D: I used to have a wacky all female rock vaudeville revue, and had been working the aforementioned Rubio on it. He and Polarity 1 had been working on a project called Audioplasm (great stuff, btw...check that out), and one day Rubio basically said we should all hook up and do something. Polarity 1 and I really connected musically in a profoundly push/pull way.

We all share the same influences, but Polarity 1 forces me to think less like a traditional pop writer and expand into areas I dont normally get an opportunity to, and I think I take what is a very Avant Garde cum Brazilian/Latin Groove Based side of him, and carve some pop structure into his amazing soundscapes. When Rubio moved to South America, and Polarity 1 and I continued our musical exploration. We all still work on stuff with each other, in fact Rubio and I are doing a side project, but Koko Dozo is ultimately Polarity 1 and myself at this point.

Stupid clich question time, where did you get the name of Koko Dozo? It sounds like a funky alien name that you were baptized with.

POLARITY/1: Amy said an old friend came up with 'koko dozo' and wasn't using it. I immediately felt it was right because it sounded so good -- just an ear-licking sound with no meanings if you don't speak Japanese.

AMY D: I am in love with words or sounds that sound like they mean something, but ultimately mean nothing. Im sure Koko Dozo might mean something, incorrect at that, in Japanese or another Asian Dialect, but the truth is, I just liked the way the words sounded together. I had an ex that was playing around in those phonic ideas, and I loved them. Once he got booted from my life, the name stuck. When I met Polarity 1, and the sound of our music began to emerge, suddenly that wordplay bolted forward from a dormant corner of my brain.
How would you describe the relationship between fellow band members even though its just the 2 of you?

POLARITY/1: I'd describe it as a duality. We slap each other's back and have mind-fucking fun making noises and laughing on the floor drooling when we listen back to this stuff and we have stupid meltdowns and get over it.

Amy D: If Thomas Edison is famous for quoting that success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration Id say that its the flip side of that here, its 90% inspiration and 10% perspiration. The perspiration only really comes out when we hit a wall, or have to make certain decisions both in business, and the music. Id describe it as mentally provocative, always challenging, and the most healthy form of Gestalt Therapy you can have. I love that Koko Dozo has kept me constantly challenged. Its really necessary for growth, and its like a garden that can keep growing.

Now a lot of fresh music tasting minds are reading this, so tell us something about yourselves that the blogging world should know?

Amy D: Personally speaking? I love bulldogs, I wish I lived in London, Koko Dozo really really would be happy with a lot of time across the pond, I think London audiences would really eat Koko Dozo up. Were exactly what you NEED. I am addicted to things that sparkle, I was weaned on a steady diet growing up on Soul Train, Motown, Beatles and 70s television. Led Zeppelin is my favorite band of all time, and part of the reason I strive to succeed is so that one day Jimmy Page will call me on the phone.

POLARITY/1: I eat all of my vegetables and say lots of dirty words. My creative life is surreal and my dream life is banal.

Describe the sound to our readers that are not familiar with it? My only interpretation from the music you gave me to review I would say is that its funky fried disco that moms use to dance to.

AMY D: LOL! Its funny, Koko Dozos origins and intents were to just find ways to guild the lily of what groove music meant. We call our sound Post Disco to best give our audience a less confined description of what that really means. Polarity 1 is a most unique producer, his sound is completely original. This is because hes someone who spent a good amount of his musical career deeply immersed in Brazilian music, and Samba, and hes an electronica producer, and this produces a most unique tropical bird to see! When these worlds mesh and collide, ironically you get wonderful disco rhythms out of it, but you get them from perhaps as less contrived and fresher angle.

In Koko Dozo I, more so even than Polar, am the Disco Fan. I really love Disco Records. I even love some of the really BAD cheesy records, just cause of how they are arranged. In addition, as a little girl growing up in the 1970s, the women of the 1970s from Disco to Rock were like visual goddess icons to me and still are. Disco was incredibly influential on me as a vocalist and arranger, and Id argue that the two people who made me want to be an arranger most were Gil Evans and Giorgio Moroder, so Donna Summer albums were like religion to me growing up. I think Giorgio Moroder was an AMAZING arranger.

One of the reasons I like working so much with Polarity 1 is I think were both arranger junkies. Like for real? I can get into a hot lather talking about the great arrangers and arranger/producers like Quincy Jones and Gil Evans and George Martin, and the list goes on to Issac Hayes and so many others. I love Fania All Star records because of how theyre arranged. HELL, I love LATIN music because of how its arranged! LOL. That said I am far more the lover of disco records for discos sake. Polar is just so inherently groove focused, that I think he chooses to just strip down to grooves butt nakedness and then give it a very modern coat of topgloss. Cool huh?

Id say that Koko Dozo is unintentional disco. That the same Mama who used to dress up in hot pants and platforms is gonna git down on it all the same as she would do so to a Chic record, is just that much more of a compliment.

POLARITY/1: I would say that it's dropped-on-the-floor deep fried latkes that my Litvak grandma serves to Moses and Lenny Bruce -- her recipes are always unique and groundbreaking. We call Koko Dozo Global Funktronica, Post-Disco, Post-Pop, Global Urban Groove, Groove-Dance, Kid Music for Grownups. My job is making the tracks. Amy can sing in any style and in any character so that gives me lots of room to goof around and lots of places to go with lyrics. I'm schooled in African-based polyrhythm science and all my trax are built with a very traditional system even though they don't sound that way. And I use genre as an arrangement and groove-making tool so each song is it own genre hybrid. Each song on Feel The ZUZZ! has it's own ID.

Tell us about being from New York? No doubt you had a lot culturally and musically at your disposal.

POLARITY/1: That's it -- every culture at our disposal. I see myself as a combination of self-loving Jew (a non-theological type) and a guy who grew up constantly listening to New York radio since post-infancy. Non-orthodox diaspora Jews have in our DNA the instinct to see the world as a cultural supermarket where we grab attractive ideas from everywhere and make it part of ourselves. That's the upside of having no home for two thousand years.

AMY D: I think its really crucial to say that Koko Dozo and its music is is a pure New York thing. Once upon a time, New York Music was a term, that was evocative of everything from Duke Ellington, to Chic, to Fania All Stars to The Ramones.

It meant something if you were a musician in New York, and Koko Dozos music is like a diorama if you will of what that means. Both Polarity 1 and I grew up in and around NYC, and we love to hold that tradition to heart. Thats why Koko Dozos music is this amalgamation of Brazilian Rhythms, Salsa, Disco, and other New York Urban Music. Regretfully, I think New York has allowed itself to forget what that means over the last 15 years or so, but we dont want to allow it to die. I recently moved from Downtown Manhattan to Somerville, Mass, but I am a core Noo Yawker. Its as much a part of me as my eyelashes.

If there were 5 things that you hold dear about The Big Apple, what would it be?

POLARITY/1: The grid layout of the streets, the multi-, the intelligence, the Everything crammed into a single city-sized room.

AMY D: Oh boy...tearful moment, because regretfully for me many of those things are gone now. So some of these are extinct, but Ill always hold them dear to my chest. Here goes though:
Sundays in the Summer along Riverside Park, when some of the best bachata and cumbia bands would play, the street food would be amazing and everyone would just be collectively loving life.
The Village Gate- now Le Poisson Rouge. As LPR its just lovely. But the Gate was an institution and a place where jazz lived in heart and soul. Some of the best recordings came from the Gate.
Katzs Deli. So help me fuckin God, if they succumb to the NYC landlords and close, I am going to scream til they hear me in Singapore.
Sunday Matinees at CBGBs.
Little West 12th Street

In your guys opinion, what is it about New York and its music scene? I mean god, you gave us some many things to aspire to like Disco and Paradise Garage.

POLARITY/1: New York is a mini-version of the whole planet. Every language, every kind of intelligence and food and every kind of music. And there's a constant barrage of noise from every type of human and car alarm and every type of power tool used on construction sites which are everywhere. So musicians with curious ears, ADD and chops will wind up doing some pretty strange shit.

AMY D: Sigh. Its true. New York City was once truly the epicenter of the universe musically, from The Brill Building to 52nd Street to the Greenwich Village of the late 50s and 60s, and its funny, mostly because its so different now, but when we collectively think, certainly when I think, of New Yorks Music Scene in the heyday when there really was a very potent and diverse scene, I think that New York City music transports its listeners into a fantasy.

Whether you were going to the Cotton Club in the 20s and 30s or CBGBs in the 70s, or you were going to Paradise Garage or Danceteria, this is all about escapism. If San Franciscos message was to lose yourself in psychedelic exploration and inhale the music as its purest form, New York city music was all about losing yourself in the glamour and the romance of the glamour.

Its the movie. As for Disco, well what music could better describe what it means to live out your fantasy and let go of your body? Disco brought the screen goddesses and gods down off the celluloid and allowed your next door neighbor to try on their Jean Harlow and Cary Grant for size and see what it was like. Its funny, how Disco for some reason opened up a lot of straight people in some ways more than the hippie revolution did! It seemed like you were living the life of a glamorous movie star, out loud on a dance floor, and the beat became the ultimate symbol of hedonism. I think that NYC musicians also tended to have this cross cultural thing because of that melting pot thing. I always say, New York Musicians are unified, no matter what they play genre-wise, in their collective love of hip hop, Salsa, and Chic. You could be in a blistering punk band and love Chic. You could be playing in a Salsa unit with Willie Colon and think Nas is fuckin awesome.

We all dig that stuff. I also think being New York Musician's means having a very profound understanding of the different spectrum's of what makes something art. All the bands from NYC bring a sense of art with them, a sense of it being about something more than just the thing in front of your face. August Darnell is a great example of this concept, in that a group like Kid Creole and the Coconuts or the Dr Savannah Buzzard Band, could have ONLY come from NYC, cause there is still something of the art concept with them. New York music, when its good, transports you to a different place, and in my opinion it only fails when it loses that spirit. Be it of high art, and great precision or something as rudimentary yet genius as The Ramones, its got to have that spirit to be New York City Music. Im not sure it still is around today, sadly, but thats the imprint my brain wont let go of.

How much Diva is in Amy D?

POLARITY/1: Did you notice the 'D' in Amy D?

AMY D: Oh my stars. I think those close to me know by now that any diva in Amy D lives mostly onstage. Im far too nerdy offstage to really cultivate the ultimate diva persona. That and I like people too much. I do have a penchant for glitter and glam, and I know that any other strain of a diva persona might come across strictly in how I like to present myself visually.

But the whole bitch I wear white every day and throw it out at the end of the day, and I sleep on 1,000,000 count thread sheets and if there isnt a bowl of green M+Ms waiting for me everywhere I sing thing? NAH! I dont live in a self absorbed bubble expecting the world to paint my toenails.

AmyĶ..where did you get that power voice? I mean damn girl were you born with it?

AMY D: LOL! Thank you very much. I got lucky. I remember Ann Wilson of Heart, who is another huge influence on me ( I have a long list of heroes) once saying that when she opened her mouth and her voice came out she felt like she hit pay-dirt in her soul. I feel exactly the same way.

I discovered I could sing when I was very very young, and I was also lucky to have been brought up in a household where the music featured a lot of great singers. I had great teachers on vinyl to show me the way stylistically from Chaka Khan to Robert Plant to Sarah Vaughan, and just so many others. My Mom and my Grandmother were really heavy into AMAZING singers. Id wake up and Aretha would be on, and then Id go visit Grandma and shed play me Patsy Cline and Lily Pons records. The message of female vocalists are awesome was hammered home a lot, and fortunately I was given the ability to apply the teachings of those masters.

I didnt know if this question was applicable to ya, but can you tell us about your studio setup that Koko DoZo uses on an everyday basis? Are you encompassing an all digital or are there parts of analog that you cant do without?

POLARITY/1: ZUZZ! and our first album, ILLEGAL SPACE ALIENS, were made in my studio. Some of the vocals on ZUZZ! were tracked at Amy's new place in Boston.

The tracks are made with funny noises I find and keyboard into Logic (Apple software). And midi synths. I never quantize parts. The grooves have to breathe like the living organisms they are. I make editing adjustments by hand (as opposed to by algorithm). Most trax have live playing too -- I might play guitar, hand drums & percussion or sometimes blues harp or trumpet (not trumpet yet for Koko Dozo).

What is the process that Koko Dozo adopt when writing new music? Do you work with themes, philosophies, favorite books or something you seen on TV or moviesĶetc?

AMY D: Our process is unorthodox. As individual songwriters, we have completely different ways of working. I like to work analog. I get up, brush my teeth, pour coffee sit down at a piano, and see what comes. I then write. Then I get some production ideas. Then I bring those ideas to Polar. Polar, on the other hand, uses the studio as an instrument, and therefore his vision is to create soundscapes and then direct much like a movie director what he wants happening over these musical dioramas. So we work with both styles!

Id say that the majority of the time, hes been banging away on an amazing piece of groove, and I hear it and start singing, then we work on lyrics. Then again, sometimes weve done things from the ground up in house. We never really work on anything uniquely the same way, and I like that. As a vocalist and writer, it keeps me on my toes, and forces me to have to use other parts of my brain. That said, I think we are both HUGELY inspired by a lot of the same themes. Certainly the entire platform of our message and brand is the space thing. And while we just love dressing kooky the reason for this was to hammer home the message of the outsider or the person in a perpetual state of discovery. We are also, not just a wee, very politically angry people. We are very unnerved by what has happened to our country, and we were both not more than a little disgruntled with what happened to New York City. So we get inspired by the news a lot.

POLARITY/1: We have very different ways of starting our day. I brush my teeth before I wake up, pour my coffee onto my macPro, replace the motherboard that gets toasted by the spilled coffee, boot up, get some coffee and drink it, and then start and banging out killer grooves. It's not a very efficient work method but it allows for some quality procrastination.

We don't have a system for writing our songs. They might start from a track I've been working on or an idea that one of us has for lyrics. Sometimes Amy brings in a melody with chord changes. Since Amy can sing in so many styles and attitudes, I can come up with any type of groove or ideas for a character that inhabits the lyrics and she can nail it instantly. We both agree that the truth of everything lies in the ridiculous. So all that we do tends to be silly but with a serious subtext.

Do you have a sense that Disco is slowly creeping back from the dead into this era after the dreadful July 12, 1979 Disco blacklash that mainstream America declared Disco to be well and dead?

POLARITY/1: Disco is definitely back and we're definitely forward so the time is right. What's most interesting to me is putting groove into dance music.

AMY D: Ah, that day. That homophobic, racist intolerant day. Komiskey Park. The Night Chicago REALLY Died. Truthfully, I think Disco NEVER REALLY WENT AWAY. Disco is just dance records. Whether you dress it up as any other thing, or call it by any other name, it is still move your booty to the beat music.

What the backlash was against was DISCO the BRAND. The marketing schematic. When the record industry discovered how to program its listener into being a leisure suit wearing zombie, and when they started to churn out the Disco Records like you could burp on beat, and it would sell, Disco as a term in quotes became a dirty word. But the Disco I know and love, is more about the RECORDINGS, and the vision that was The Loft Parties of David Mancuso and Larry Levan the culture from which Disco emerged.

When they blew up the records in Chicago and steamrolled over them, they were angry that theyd been conned and dumbed down to. That said I kinda wish they had exercised that level of vitriol towards people who really deserve it, like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, instead of people just making records, some of which were really great. I think Disco is rearing its head again as perhaps a full bore return is because weve had 10 solid years of hell and its time to have some FUN and MOVE again. I feel like music, electro in particular of late is taken from a very angry, raw, primal scream sort of sense and while that can be cathartic, its not FUN.

Would it be an unfair comparison that you guys are like this generations version of Deee Lite? Yeah Im aware that the Legendary Diva Lady Kier is currently active singing and doing shows here and there.

POLARITY/1: I think it would be totally fair to compare us to anything. Everything. Deee Lite is nice.

AMY D: It is always a great compliment and honor when you are compared to artists you genuinely dig and respect. Deee Lite came along at a time when people were losing the fun and the soul that the human race tends to do every now and again. They served up the ultimate reminder to not let go of that spirit.

Lady Miss Kier is a legend, and a goddess, so when people say we remind them of Dee Lite, its a nod of deep respect, especially in New York City where their legacy runs so deep. I would love to propose right here right now, in print a show in which we combine forces and throw a Disco party so intense, peoples feet would just melt off. Theyd be gittin down on their kneecaps.

Who are your influences musically or otherwise?

POLARITY/1: I grew up on my dad's record collection and New York radio. So it was every style and era of rock, jazz, country, soul, funk, hip hop, gospel, stuff from Africa, Brasil and Latin America, Japan, India, Spain, mod classical.

AMY D: Oh Boy. Here we go. A Tribe Called Quest, Afrika Bambaata, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Art Blakey, Basement Jaxx, Bela Bartok, Benny More, Betty Davis, Bill Evans, Bjork, Black Sabbath Bob Marley, Bonde Do Role, Brazilian Girls, Brian Eno, Bugge Wesseltoft, Buju Banton, Burt Bachrach, Calle 13, Captain Beefheart, Celia Cruz, Charles Mingus, Chic Claude, Debussy, Da Lata, Daft Punk, David Bowie, Deee-Lite, Depeche Mode, Devo, Devo, Doc Boggs, Donna Summer, Duke Ellington, Earth Wind and Fire, Everything But The Girl, Fela, Fishbone, Frank Zappa, Fundo De Quintal, Gang of Four, Giorgio Moroder, Glenn Branca, Goldfrapp, Grace Jones, Grandmaster Flash, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Gregory Issacs, Hector Lavoe, Hugh Masekela, James Brown, James Chance and the Contortions, Janes Addiction, Joan Armatrading, Joan Manuel, Serrat, Joe Arroyo Johann, Sebastian Bach, John Cage, John Coltrane, Johnny Pacheco, Jon Hassell, Joni Mitchell, Joy Division, Kid Creole and the Coconuts, King Crimson, Kinky, Kraftwerk, KRS- One, La Lupe, Led Zeppelin, Los Amigos Invisibles, Marvin Gaye, MIA, Miles Davis, Mongo Santamaria, Morcheeba, Muddy Waters, Nick Drake, Nusrat Fateh, Ali Khan, Ozomatli, Paquito DRivera, Parliament, Funkadelic, Peter Gabriel, Pharoah Sanders, Pink Floyd, Portishead, Prince, Public Enemy, Quincy Jones, Richard Smallwood, Roxy Music, Roy Ayers, Sade, Salif Keita, Santogold, Sidsel Endresen, Sister Nancy, Slave, Sonic Youth, Soulwax, Spankrock, Staple Singers, Steely Dan,,Steve Reich, Stevie Wonder, Tears For Fears, The Beatles, The Dead 60s, The Jazz Messengers, The Jazz Passengers, The Orb, Thelonius Monk, Timbalada, Timbaland/Missy Elliott, Tito Puente, Tricky, Van Halen, Wilfrido Vargas, Willie Colon, XTC, Yes, and Zero 7.

I am also very influenced by Glam Rock Style, and old Dietrich Films.

What Bands/Albums/groups/etc that you grew up listening to back in the day?

AMY D: Well the fundamentals of my life involve The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Elton John and Led Zeppelin. I grew up listening essentially to rock, jazz, soul and R+B, and funk. My folks loved Sergio Mendes and Brasil 66, and this is a good angle that came in handy once I met Polarity 1 for sure. I got heavily into World Music in High School, and the truth is, I am influenced by everything from Black Sabbath to Donna Summer and its all inside me. My love of the great song, leans me towards the Gods of song in addition such as Cole Porter, Bachrach and David, and every single giant of the Brill Building. Im a pop song junkie.

POLARITY/1: James Brown, P Funk, Chic, Led Zep, Zappa, Beatles, '50s Elvis, Lieber & Stoller, Paul Simon, Mickey Katz, Joni Mitchell, Mingus, Coltrane, Sun Ra, Django Reinhardt, Sam Cooke, gospel era Staples Singers, Soul Stirrers, Gospel Keynotes, Burt Bacharach, Muddy Waters, Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Kokani Orkestrar, Doc Boggs, George Jones, Hank Williams, Dylan, Tribe Called Quest, J-Live, Missy Elliot, Timbaland, Major Lazer, Buraka Som Sistema, Lupe Fiasco, Frank Zappa, Django Reingardt, Willie Colon, samba, Jobim, trad drumming, Olatunji, Oumou Sangere, Steve Reich, pre-Columbia Philip Glass, trad flamenco, Bulgarian Womens Choir, classical Japanese, Stockhausen.

Lets talk about your brand new EP Feel the Zuzz. How long did it take you to write and produce this fantastic EP? We gave it our gold seal of Nerdy approval ya know.

AMY D: For which, we are really super grateful, humbled and thankful!! A gold seal from yall is the real litmus test because there isnt a single interview or shout out on NF that hasnt been quality and in fact really helpful when you want to spread out and check out other electronic based music. Its an amazing blog. Feel The Zuzz believe it or not, started just as Illegal Space Aliens ended.

Boomchi the single from that LP was picked up for the final season of The L Word and we were on a writing TEAR! Id say that by the time we had done a full and very widely varied LP of our sound, we wanted to focus in more on doing pure groove dance beat driven music, and we were gonna take it to the mountain. Feel The Zuzz from soup to nuts probably took bout 5 months in terms of its finishing touches.

POLARITY/1: It was nerds that made it. So we assumed you'd approve. Two of the songs were done awhile ago and three started last year and finished this year. Most of last year we're weren't working because Amy was relocating to Boston. It's hard to say how long it takes for us to make a song. Often there are scraps of things lying around that get popped into a new idea. Amy's vocals happen in an hour more or less. Collaborating on lyrics can take an hour or a few days. I obsess for weeks on each track. We work our fingers to the bone for you.

What has been the initial reaction to Feel the Zuzz from media outlets and Fans?

POLARITY/1: 100% poz. And the best thing is that everybody has a different fave track or pair o' tracks.

AMY D: At the risk of having a Sally Field moment they LIKE US...THEY REALLY LIKE US! This EP is being very positively received and its making us completely Zuzzed!

My favorite song from the EP is Gangsta which sounds like a brow beat down to all those wannabe tough guys orĶ.um touch ass girls. What do ya think?

POLARITY/1: That's what it am. Posing instead of being. For me it's a lot about some kids at my kid's school and in the all-kids samba school I was running with a friend a few years ago. All these middle- & upper middle class kids being ghetto for Halloween till they go off to college. There was an angle they weren't connecting with.

AMY D: You arent far off the mark. I was getting really sick of current culture, which is like anger as glamor. I was getting pissed off at this faux were so hard anger that a lot of the music and art was dictating, and how really ridiculous the whole thing was.

Youd go in a club and some DJ would be spinning music that was anti groove and sounded like music to rile up gorillas by playing were taking your banana away from you music. Nothing could be sexy anymore, everything had to be ironic and stripped down to the point of....its all bout the sound of something instead of the full on craft process, so I felt a beat down song was in order. In addition, without naming names, there was a certain DJ/promoter personality who was giving us the run around and acting like he was the greatest thing since cooked food, so I wanted to write him a little go fuck yourself note. Jim Croce was trying to say he loved you in a song? Well I was trying to say go fuck yourself, and learn to do something useful with your life...like professional nose picking. Or as Iggy Pop used to say why dont you read a book and go flunk a test motherfucker!

Do any of you have a favorite song on the EP that you truly dug that you can recommend to our readers?

AMY D: Oh GOSH DARNS! Wow. Thats like saying, which finger on your hand do you like the best?? I wont play favorites, but when Im alone, I find myself personally gravitating towards Lay That Body Down. That song really revvs me up, and I love its message.

POLARITY/1: There are five that I'd particularly recommend. SPACEMAN is a tone poem about galactic alienation with a big beat. LAY THAT BODY DOWN presents a cogent argument for fucking accompanied by a sizzling funk-reggaeton. GANGSTA is an electroGrease stain with a message. GRAB YA is a space-travelogue by way of NYC and Brasil. BASTARDS IN BAZBADOR is fake complaining in a tub full of squeak-funk. BAZBADOR, by the way, is located in the Velfin Spoidioyz galaxy. You have to read SPACE ALIEN NATION http://www.kokodozo.com/KD-SpAN.php

This is a long fuckin interview. What are you... a journalist?

Off the record from the EP, what can you tell us about Boomchi? Amy I didnt know you were fluent in Spanish?

AMY D: Boomchi, was written by Rubio (aforementioned former third member) and I one sunny afternoon in my old apartment in New York on Mexican Hot Chocolate and some weed.

I think we wrote it in 5 minutes! I, speak Spanish but Im certainly not fluent, but Rubio most definitely is. Our idea was to write a song, that makes fun of the bad dance music. We both recently had experiences in clubs where the DJ was playing incessant 2 and 4 Boomchi beats and giving NO change up and we realized how robotic that can make you. So we decided what would happen if you could like...Manchurian Candidate Brainwash someone by using the Boomchi beat into doing....bad things??? Mwuh hahahahaha! It was Rubios idea to put it in Spanish, and we vowed NEVER to do an English version to force people to have to learn a lil something to translate it. It is also the only song that Koko Dozo did that Rubio produced. When it blew up in the clubs and then on L Word, well...we were shocked and overjoyed!

From there Amylulita and Marcello the Nacotheque DJs started playing it and the next thing we knew...Koko Dozo was playing our first show at Nacotheque which is a party in New York City that focuses on Latino focused Electro and Disco. At present Rubio and I are working on a side project that is going to be like where Boomchi left off, and then traveled to a Latin American city where club goers exist on a steady diet of absinthe, Italo Disco and Tones On Tail. Its sounding amazing.

POLARITY/1: Our former member, Rubio, is an alien Latin American. He wrote it with Amy in the form of classic disco. I added spluttering percussive vocal noises. We've done a song in Portuguese (FULANO DE TAL on our first album). And another song in Spanish. That global thing.

And that same song Boomchi made it into an episode of The L Word. Is Koko Dozo penetrating the mainstream with its spaced out post disco grooves?

POLARITY/1: Yes indeedie. When D.C. WHORE (from our first album) gets sung on American Idol I'll know for certain that we've penetrated.

AMY D: I think its our mission to at least try and do so. I think were still a very unknown little act, and I hope that changes so we can bring good grooves to a bunch of mediums.

How many live shows have you done in the last 2 years and what have been the weirdest costumes youve worn onstage?

POLARITY/1: I just throw on whatever old spacesuits are laying around in the closet.

AMY D: Weve done roughly 15 shows in the last 2 years. Always at parties whenever possible. I cant say what the wildest thing weve worn on stage is, because you see...these are not costumes. We really do look like this, us Bazbadorans! The look is pretty much derisive of a pure Bazbadoran thrift store look. On our home planet every Friday they come to collect the trash and its at this point in time that the real fashionistas and fashionistos of our planet make entire ensembles out of the remains of bits and odds and sods we find on the street.

Is there a certain spark of energy or aura that is felt when someone new to your sound checks out your live shows?

POLARITY/1: Actually it does get pretty tingly when people seem to be really getting what we're up to. You have to dance in new ways.

AMY D: Oh yes! Its ranged from everything from prolonged screaming in ecstasy to slack jawed open mouth stares of disbelief.

What has been the craziest or memorable live show that youve played to date?

POLARITY/1: I think the Tubway gig -- Mr. Black's Black To The Future III -- was the hottest. The sweatest, most packed-in crowd. And in a photo of the set there was a view of the people on the floor. A bunch of people were right in front of the stage waving their hands; but there was one guy who was waving his feet in the air. Actually it never occurred to me till just now -- it must have been while we were playing FACE ON THE DANCEFLOOR which gives explicit directions to "throw your feet in the air."

AMY D: Tubway. No doubt. The Tubway show last year was incredible. DJ Nita Aviance and Roze Black and Gant Johnson turned the crowd up to 11 that night and by the time we hit the stage, you could see sweat dancing through the air when the lights would shine on it. The crowd came amped up and ready to dance. We gave them all we could handle. Someone grabbed my ass so hard on my way out the door I had a bruise on my left ass cheek for a month.

So whats in the pipeline for Koko Dozo for the next month or so, more shows, working on new tunes, a possible tour, a certain side project (hint, hint)Ķetc?

POLARITY/1: All of. We have a gig on April 20 at the Union Square Lounge. We're concentrating on moving Feel The ZUZZ! into the world. There will definitely be new toons and remixes. Amy has some side projects and I do too. just finished doing music for Danny Schechters new film, PLUNDER, a feature-length doc about the financial scumbaggery that led to our mini-Great Depression. I've done the music for Danny's last four films.

Out of that will be an EP with songs from PLUNDER and from Dannys last film, IN DEBT WE TRUST, that predicted the mess three years before it happened. A new Polarity/1 EP, FREE MONEY (But You Have To Pay) will be available for free downloading to serve the cause. Another Polarity/1 album is in progress. Some of the songs feature Amys vocals. P/1 collaborations to come: a series of dance tracks under the name BOI OI YOING and a instrumental collabs under the name GNAT KING KOL NIDRE. Next year I'll be scoring a full-length work for Quorum Ballet in Lisbon. I scored a piece for them in 2008 called THE OTHER SIDE. You can see vids on www.polarity1.com.

AMY D: Well, as far as Koko Dozo goes, were on a brand new label and so were concocting up intense schemes, and there is definitely going to be a conceptual video from us! A lot of our fans have written screaming you guys are a cartoon! Where is your video??? We can wait no longer, so the vids are coming. We are playing at Union Square Lounge in NYC on April 20th (how perfect is it that were playing on 4/20?), and from there, were gonna just...keep pushing this rock up the hill. We still have a long way to go.

Me personally, you know bout Discokaina already, which is like taking a rock/disco hybrid and taking it to its most degenerate extreme. Its as if Kisss I Was Made For Loving You is a musical jump off point for the project and its bi-lingual. I am also working on a HUGE amazing project called BAMela which is a trio of myself, Freekbass who is an AMAAAAAAAZING and very well known bassist who in addition to having huge success with his own band, does a trio with Steve Molitz of Particle and DJ Logic, and Tobe Donohue aka Tobotius who works with Bootsy Collinss Bootzilla Productions out of Cincinnati.

Tobe is quite possibly one of the greatest producers I have ever worked with and this project is going to be SO SICK its going to make you cry. This is funk, pop, rock, electro, new wave and just everything rolled into a huge power trio. Weve been working on the tracks since Feb and I just came back from a recent jaunt to the Queen City to record more tracks. We cant wait to get that baby out there too.

Before we wrap up here, I would like to ask whats one thing that you know about NZ? What random factoid that you know about NZ?

AMY D: NZ is gorgeous and was where the Lord of the Rings Movies were filmed. Rightly so. Gorgeous place. The Natural Beauty is staggering.

POLARITY/1: New Zealand is a land of many wonders with its hot springs, beautiful geysers, ancient forest and towering mountain peaks. Its people are friendly, outgoing and always ready to lend a hand. This delightful nation of islands is a highly developed, stable parliamentary democracy. It has a modern economy, and tourist facilities are widely available. Most hotels will have shaver plugs suitable for all international appliances of low power rating, and which will supply 110 and 230 volts.

Lastly any wise words to end on our interview Koko Dozo?

AMY D: Only that we are always grateful when we make fans, we are humbled that Nerdy Frames is receiving us this positively and that...you aint seen NOTHING yet.

POLARITY/1: A Yiddish proverb: "Der mensch trakht un Gott lahkht" -- "People think, god laughs."

Thanks alot guys.

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Music from out of this world? Meet Koko Dozo
Written by MeanLittleBumbleBee.com
Thursday, 04 March 2010
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If you're like me, you've probably found yourself staring up at the sky and wondering if life really exists on other planets. Are we really alone? Is there life on other planets? The answer is: yes and the soundtrack is a trippy mix of galactic fusion electronica. Leading the way is Koko Dozo, an exciting duo making music for earthlings they like to call "post-disco." I caught up with Koko Dozo (a/k/a Amy Douglas and Polarity/1) from an undisclosed location as they are currently on the lam from their home planet of Bazbador.
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If you're like me, you've probably found yourself staring up at the sky and wondering if life really exists on other planets. Are we really alone? Is there life on other planets? The answer is: yes and the soundtrack is a trippy mix of galactic fusion electronica. Leading the way is Koko Dozo, an exciting duo making music for earthlings they like to call "post-disco." I caught up with Koko Dozo (a/k/a Amy Douglas and Polarity/1) from an undisclosed location as they are currently on the lam from their home planet of Bazbador.

MeanLittleBumbleBee: So how did you two meet, how long ago was that, and how was your sound born?
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Amy: Polarity/1 and I met in the BEASTLY hot summer of 2007, when the former third member of the tribe hooked us up. The sound was born out of a shared deep love for music. When P/1 puts his signature electronic production style over the songs which we purposely make hybrids of all these genres we love, you get Koko Dozo. It's New York City Fusion Electronica but we call it "Post Disco."
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Polarity/1:
We met through our friend, Rubio. We recorded our first album, ILLEGAL SPACE ALIENS, with him. Then he moved to Bogota and we became a duo.
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Our sound is the G spot where our influences and styles intersect. Both of us are music FREAKS. We came up listening to every imaginable kind of music. Amy is more pop-oriented and my Polarity/1 stuff is also groove-based but more left field. The combination is ideal cause she brings out the more pop and and danceclub side of my stuff and I pull her outside the genre zone.
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MeanLittleBumbleBee: Can you talk to me a little about the process of making and writing the music?
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Amy: Our process is quite unique, and interestingly enough where Koko Dozo is concerned. Sometimes the sparks come from tracks P/1 has been working on, sometimes it's pieces of music I've been groovin on on piano. One of the things that makes the KD writing process so unique is that Polar is a very digital mind and I'm very analog; I tend to write songs just from sitting down at the piano, and letting it flow. P/1 uses his studio as an instrument, so he writes songs where the macro part of the picture has emerged and then we kinda fill in the micro part together. We write as individuals in such different ways that when we write together, there is really no rhyme or reason to our process. Sometimes ideas come from something we heard on TV, and we want to expand that idea into a song, sometimes it's a chord progression that I've been drilling for a while. Sometimes we just get a spontaneous idea and it goes from there.
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Polarity/1: We write all our stuff. I might bring in a sketch of a track with or without lyrics -- usually they're either partially written or not at all. Then we work it together. Either of us might come up with the melody/harmony/structure or we do it together. Sometimes Amy brings in a melody with changes and we work on the words together. The words might come in with an angle or we have to come up the angle. Then we argue. Then we agree.
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MeanLittleBumbleBee: I've been jamming to "Lay That Body Down" nonstop for days now. I can already tell you this is going to be my summer jam. This is a great tease/taste of the upcoming EP "Feel The Zuzz..." (out 03/23/10 on Red Star Records). Tell me more about the sound of the EP? How has the sound evolved since Illegal Space Aliens?
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Amy: I think that on Illegal Space Aliens, we were still getting to know each other as musicians and writers and we were very much in love with the fact that we could quite literally....do it all, which is why the breadth and span of that album is so wide. "Feel The Zuzz" is P/1 and I, really focusing in on a feeling and a vibe, and therefore it's a very COMPLETE musical statement, and man, it's soooo great and fantastic when you say that Lay That Body Down is gonna be your summer jam, because "Feel The Zuzz" overall is geared EXACTLY for that, it's sizzling hot weather music, be you in NYC during August, Lagos, Sao Paolo, or Miami. It's the EP we wanted everyone to put on to get SWEATY to, and to have a very escapist sort of experience with it. It's definitely HOT WEATHER MUSIC. I'm thrilled that the song is already taking you on a vacation, even if it's only a 4 minute one!
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Polarity/1: Wow -- you're asking about all the interesting stuff! I think you should do all our interviews. The sound is where we individually do what we do. One of the things I have most fun with is imagining a different character that Amy will play. And I'm sure she does that too. That influences what I contribute to the words and sound of the track. And she's astounding at becoming those characters. I feel that that's the point of writing songs. If every song is sung by the same character -- then you're writing the same song over and over.
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Our ultra-modern space age sound comes from our collective pile of musical obsessions. My body is the first thing I pick up on in music. So I have a bias to groove. Each groove has its own recipe. Combinations of funk, hip hop, reggaeton, samba, soukous, mambo or comparsa. We have a lot of the same influences and there are lots of em. I grew up listening to Led Zep, Zappa, Beatles, '50s Elvis, Lieber & Stoller, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Mingus, Coltrane, Sun Ra, Django Reinhardt, Sam Cooke, James Brown, P Funk, gospel era Staples Singers, Muddy Waters, Doc Boggs, George Jones, Hank Williams, Dylan, Willie Colon, samba, Jobim, Olatunji, Oumou Sangere, Bulgarian Womens Choir, classical Japanese, Stockhausen. And the all the styles we're into find their way into the brew. The tracks are built with a lot of little pieces of noise and sometimes standard drum kit sounds, synths; and sometimes I play guitar and live percussion. I like taking little snippits of things that Amy does in out takes and make them part of the track. I hate the feel of quantized tracks so there are always have elements to keep things fresh and funky.
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Each song on the new EP -- FEEL THE ZUZZ! has its own world. SPACEMAN is about the stress of being an alien. It's an electro, sci-fi, dance track with a vamp that has some Puerto Rican carnival groove thrown in. LAY THAT BODY DOWN is a recruitment jingle to create a teabagger-like conclave to get together and fuck. It's kind of a reggaeton groove with a bit of samba sprinkled in. GANGSTA is about posing. It's got a retro disco vibe and very electro. GRAB YA is a funky dance track with lotsa samba. BASTARDS IN BAZBADOR is very funky. It's us griping about how we get so much love here on Earth while we're doink back on our home planet -- BAZBADOR which, by the way, is located in the Velfin Spoidioyz galaxy. You have to read SPACE ALIEN NATION.
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On FEEL THE ZUZZ! we decided to focus down our direction to danceable groove. So this album rocks much harder and we found a more unified sound -- even though each song is very different.
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MeanLittleBumbleBee: Tell me about the experience in the studio (and otherwise) during the recording/making of the EP.
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Amy: Some of the songs on "Feel The Zuzz" were started in NYC ironically right at the end of having finished Illegal Space Aliens, getting our footing and really being in the zone. We were writing SO much music at that time, and so some of the music comes right from the original source, P/1's studio in downtown NYC. However, this is the first time that we also did a lot of work intra-studio because I recently moved from downtown NYC to Somerville, MA and opened up my own studio, so while the majority of Feel The Zuzz was done traditionally, with us in Polar's studio writing and recording, some of it was done back and forth between our studios. The experience as always...was intergalactic.
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Polarity/1: Up till Amy moved to Boston last spring we did all the recording at my studio. I work on the tracks and when they're developed to a certain point Amy tracks the vocals. Since she moved I send her the track and she does the vocals at her place and ships them over to me. When Rubio was with us he put on some keyboard parts and helped with the engineering and mixing. On FEEL THE ZUZZ! he plays the outer space dinner music therimen on SPACEMAN and bass on GANGSTA and helped with the engineering on those two. Amy played the piano part on GANGSTA. After Amy sends me her vocal parts I fuss with track some more and then send her a working mix and she makes suggestions. I make suggestions to her about the vocals and vocal arrangements but that's her domain so she gets the last word. And I get the last word on the tracks. Then the tracks get tweaked to death for a couple of weeks before it goes to mastering. The whole thing is done with just the two of us in home studios. The only expense is the mastering.
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MeanLittleBumbleBee: Will you be touring?
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Amy: DAMN I SURE HOPE SO!!! This is our first release for a new label -- Red Star -- and I think it's going to get a whole new Koko Dozo audience. We're still very much new artists, and we need all the support that new artists need. We're still hoping to catch booking agents who will exploit us for all we're worth and we're hoping that DJ's will take these funky tracks, remix them and keep this party going. We have a really high energy live show, and we'd love to take the show on the road, so whoever is reading this...if you want the funkiest alien duo to rock your party, HOLLER AT US AT OUR SITE!!! We'd love to come to Chicago.
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MeanLittleBumbleBee: How's life on the lam on planet earth treating you so far?
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Amy: Life on the lam here on Earth, has been a mixed blessing of rewarding and confusing. There are still things we just can't seem to grasp, like condiments in tiny envelopes and this thing called Tic Tacs is most perplexing. Escalators are a doozy! The Earthlings however treat us wonderfully, they've been far kinder and fairer than the overlords back on Bazbador.
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Polarity/1: Earth is a unique and puzzling place. You earthforms are zesty about fucking things up. That aside, I like chocolate a lot. And baseball. And earthform sexual apparatus.
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MeanLittleBumbleBee: And finally, as beings from another planet, what are your thoughts on the world ending in 2012? Will you find another planet to hide out in or do you think you'll go back and face the music?
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Amy: Well you know that old expression "you can't go home again?" We can't go home again, but I do not believe the world will end in 2012. If anything we have neat devices in our spaceship that should it look like eminent danger is upon us, we can encapsulate the entire planet in a sort of gelatinous goo which will make us impervious to bullets, warheads and natural disasters, merely by getting in our funky spaceship and circumnavigating the Earth's surface over and over again. So the plan would be to suspend the planet should anything gnarly go down, kinda like hitting the pause button.
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Polarity/1: Who's world?
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Koko Dozo's EP "Feel The Zuzz..." will be released March 23, 2010 on Red Star Records.
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For more information on Koko Dozo visit: http://www.kokodozo.com/
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Breakdown with THE KIKI TWINS : Interview With KOKO DOZO

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THE KIKI TWINS sat down with cosmic space-duo Koko Dozo to try and better understand their ways of life through their sound.

Name: Koko Dozo- Amy Douglas and Polarity/1

What do you do?

We make noise.

Where you are based: NYC

1. What is the most FIERTH thing about you?

P/1- We come from the planet Bazbador.

Amy D.- Our amazing music, which is funky, hot, sizzlin' and soulful.

2. Describe what type of art you create.

Amy D.- It's New York City life, as music.

P/1- We call it Global Funktronica and Post-Disco. We write the songs together; Amy sings them and I produce the tracks. It's music for dancing.

3. What's going on right now for you?

P/1- Our second album, an EP titled FEEL THE ZUZZ!, drops March 23 on Redstar Records. It's a download-only release.

Amy D.- We are playing at Tufts University on April 2nd, and from there, we're just gonna ride the wave.

4. Who's on your radar? Who should we be keeping an eye on?

P/1- Buraka Som Sistema is a killer electro/hip hop group from Lisbon. They're one of the few electro/dance club crews that puts groove in their shit; and I'm starving for groove. Issa Bagayogo, a Malian singer and n'goni player (6-string harp like a kora) who teamed up with a Parisian producer and makes a seamless hybrid of electronica and deep roots.

Amy D.- Sean MF'n Roberts- he's an amazing DJ in a world where it would seem everyone with two fingers is a DJ. I'm also really feeling Maluca, Dam Funk, and Leif. Gotta also give my boys Freekbass and Tobotius a shout. Check out Junkyard Waltz, the album Freekbass just put out, it's SICK!

5. What is something no one knows about you?

Amy D.- Koko Dozoans are 98% Cherry Jello.

P/1- This is a shocking untold Koko Dozo story: we're not really from the planet Bazbador. We're actually a couple of New York Jew humans (jewmans) who crave attention.

6. What are some of your pet peeves?

P/1- The American political system driven at the top by corporate money and the personal ambitions of politicians; and at the bottom by corporate media that delivers news and information as mass entertainment full of fuckin' & fightin'.

Amy D.- People who lie, steal and are hypocrites generally do not get invited to dinner at Le Casa Amy. Unfocused people….nope, that's a negatory. Oh, people who have no desire to learn and improve their intelligence levels piss me off.

7. If you could be anywhere right now do anything with anyone, tell us where, what and who it would be?

Amy D.- When my fantasy meter kicks in, I'm in London in a brand new flat, and my friends range from Jimmy Page to Christopher Bailey. We'd all be at Hoxton Bar And Grill talking fashion. Richard Mortimer of Ponystep would be there holding court. Pat McGrath would walk in, fix my makeup and then I'd get on stage with Jimmy and do every piece of the Led Zeppelin catalog I've ever wanted to do. An insane dance party would ensue after the performance of Larry Tee (now living there) on the 2's and 4's followed by Arthur Baker. This would happen every day.

P/1- In Brasil with my family and my toys.

8.Are we there yet?

Amy D.- Honey, we are NEVER there yet. That's why the ride is so fun!!! The minute you're there, the ride is over! Who wants that?
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The Lost Interview
WSHC with Olivia Maxwell
The first half has been found!

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Music Industry News Network

Band News July 22, 2008
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An Interview With Koko Dozo: Bringing A Little Madness
- And Lots Of Teamwork - Into The Mix
By Mark Kirby
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The rock and roll super group - a group made of musicians who are well-known for being in other groups, or, solo stars who band together into one entity, like the comic book heroes X-men or The Avengers - has a long history in rock music. The super group Blind Faith was comprised of guitar giant Eric Clapton and drummer Ginger Baker from Cream, joined with Steve Winwood of Traffic. Clapton also joined with legendary Allman Brother Duane Allman and super drummer Jim Gordon to form Derek and the Dominoes, who recorded the classic rock album 'Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs.'
Oftentimes in jazz, musicians from different groups (who are great solo artists in their own right) will come together and create great music. However, this is not always the case. Groups made up of great performers - those used to working alone or being the "star" - can sometimes be less than the sum of their parts, as egos clash and the group becomes like a bad basketball team, where everyone wants to score and nobody wants to pass or play defense. Koko Dozo, however, is a dream team. Each member of the group, which includes Polarity/1, Rubio and Amy Douglas, is an equal contributor, with the entire group utilizing each member's skills and talents. Once more, there are no egos clashing. Quite the opposite occurs, as the members provide support and encouragement for one another. On the group's debut 'Illegal Space Aliens,' Koko Dozo shows that individual and group expression can meld into one, and - just like a good jazz band, baseball team or this year's Boston Celtics - can result in something even greater than the sum of its parts.
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[Mark Kirby] What kind of music was played in your homes when you were growing up?
[Polarity/1] I started off with my dad's records. My earliest faves were Cab Calloway, Tito Rodriguez and other salsa music, Elvis, James Brown, Chuck Berry, Beatles and Led Zeppelin. Then there was the radio and television shows like American Bandstand, Soul Train and the Ed Sullivan Show.
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[Rubio] My parents were fundamentalists and went through this period of being afraid of having any secular music in the house, so for a while we had nothing but this old 8-track with Pat Boone and Bob Dylan's one Christian album. No, I'm not making this up. I used to stay up nights just surfing the dial on this crappy transistor radio I had and absorbing everything I could get my ears on.
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[Amy Douglas] I come from a family that played instruments. Growing up, I was fortunate to have parents that liked music quite a bit. My dad was all about jazz - Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Brubeck, Duke, Bird and Diz, etc. - so I get my love of jazz from him and my grandparents. My mom was a huge fan of artists like Carol King, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Paul Simon, Jim Croce and Elton John (still one of my personal heroes to this day). She was also a huge fan of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, The Temptations, Philly soul, and anything Gamble and Huff touched, from Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes to the Spinners and all in-between. She liked Black music in general. Also heavily on rotation in the house growing up was Aretha Franklin, who served as my initial influence into opening up my head and wailing away, and Stevie Wonder, who was one of my greatest influences of all.
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[Mark Kirby] What incident or moment ignited your passion to perform or otherwise get into music?
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[Polarity/1] When I was in high school I discovered Brazilian music, Appalachian folk, Eric Dolphy, 16th century Japanese court music, Bob Dylan and Mahavishnu Orchestra. My thing with Dylan got me to buy a guitar so I could express my rage over the inconveniences of life on earth. Within weeks I was writing clueless protest songs about important political issues I never bothered to read about.
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[Rubio] I've had a passion for music as long as I can remember. I used to go nuts over it even as an infant apparently. I started taking lessons at age four. When I was 11, I formally made a decision to dedicate myself to music. I was classically trained on piano and organ as a kid. As a teenager, I started getting heavily into metal and prog rock and things like that.
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[Amy Douglas] I think growing up as a child in the 1970s served as a constant source of inspiration and was a catalyst. From just listening constantly to my parents' music, and then turning on the TV or radio, it seems like virtually EVERYTHING influenced me. But if I had to narrow it down to a few choice moments, I'd say playing Stevie Wonder's "Songs in the Key of Life," seeing Chaka Khan on Soul Train, seeing Bowie everywhere on TV, hearing all the Beatles' albums, and most important, hearing Led Zeppelin, my favorite band of all time. Between the TV shows Soul Train, Midnight Special and Don Kirshner's Rock Concert, there was no shortage of good stuff to draw on. I think the combination of hearing all this stuff as a child was like a bomb going off. Certainly, I take almost all my visual cues from Donna Summer, P-Funk and Chaka..
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[Mark Kirby] Describe your musical backgrounds. Did you study formally in school? Or take lessons?
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[Polarity/1] When I was 14 I bought a plywood guitar with a book of tunes that had chord diagrams, and then I starting writing my own songs. A couple of years later I took a few lessons and learned how to play major and minor seventh chords so I could add some jazz and bossa nova flavor to my songs.
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I spent a semester at Berklee School of Music in Boston, which was a weird move, being that I couldn't functionally read music and my brain isn't wired for formal learning. But I could write notation a little bit and tried to prove that I was Berklee-worthy by hot-dogging the homework projects - like scoring an arrangement of Monk's "Epistrophy in 7/4," which nobody could play. I was redeemed a few years ago when I notated a 7/4 thing for Pete McCann and Gregg Bendian to play on "Munton's Revenge" on the Polarity/1 'Speechless' album. They nailed it pretty quickly. What was good about the year at Berklee was that even though I couldn't learn in a normal way, [with] what they were throwing at me, I was able to sort of "visualize" all these concepts like chord functions and voicings. It all came in handy much later on in unexpected ways when I would create quite complex things without "knowing how" and be taken seriously. In that sense I've had a very real musical training.
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[Rubio] I had lessons up until I was 16, mostly classical music. When I was younger, we had a deal where I got free lessons in return for performing for Kawai, showcasing their instruments in malls and conventions. Because of that, I had some performance training as well. By my 17th birthday I was playing full-time with bands and earning my keep.
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[Amy Douglas] I started doing music from age six onward. I first discovered I could sing when my elementary school teacher wrote my mom a letter saying, "Ask Amy to sing for you sometime." My grandmother taught me piano initially, and from there I took lessons. From 6th grade on, I was one of those disgusting "Music Big Concert School" kids. I started learning music theory in junior high and I got a lot of credit from the state of New York, won the Louis Armstrong and Eubie Blake music scholarships and then went to study Jazz Theory and Composition at New York University. UUUUUUGH..
[Mark Kirby] What were some of your earliest musical experiences?
[Polarity/1] My earliest gigging experiences in high school were great antidotes for bad looks and bad conversation-starting skills. Music-making has been all good except for one rough period where I got a real-world lesson about where my strengths and weaknesses were. My songs started off in folk and rock. Then they got jazzy and funky. Then I wanted to bring elements of the late John Coltrane, Mingus and Mahavishnu. So I created a band with all jazz guys instead of folk-rockers which was most[ly] cool - except that I wasn't that kind of player with that kind of training. Since my only interest in the guitar was for songwriting, I had no chops and couldn't contribute much on the instrumentals the other guys were writing. And they needed a serious jazz/metal guitar player. So I got fired from my own band. It triggered a move into a radically different direction, where I had to start from scratch and discover what my own creative process was, make a commitment to it and then succeed on my own terms. And with that kind of focus, I found that there were a whole lot of different things that I did really well with my own vision and method and developed big chops with it.
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[Rubio] It was rough from age 11 to 16 because I basically had to disappear into a hole and hibernate in order to switch from organ to piano, and didn't perform live at all during that time. It was a definite case of withdrawal. My first few rock bands were rough, too. I was nicknamed "Wendel" because that was Gomer Pyle's actual first name in the TV show. I'm sorry to say that at the time the name fit perfectly. I was more than a bit naive. I'm very grateful for those times, though, because I learned a lot very quickly.
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[Amy Douglas] I played my first pro gig at age 12 and did my first pro session at 13. I told my parents I didn't want to go to school anymore. From then onwards, it got darker. My first pro gig was at a supper club on Long Island. Between dishes of steak and shrimp, I sang a combination of jazz standards and disco classics. It was a blast.
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[Mark Kirby] Describe your individual musical journeys from the first bands to Koko Dozo.

[Polarity/1] I started off writing songs until I hooked up with the SIM (Studio For Interrelated Media) department at Mass Art (Massachusetts College of Art) when I was discovering Cage, Xenakis, George Crumb, Joan LaBarbera, Steve Reich and others. I made a decision to not use melody, harmony or rhythm in any way that resembled songs or jazz. And since I was also a visual artist at that time, the art scene provided venues for this new direction. So my visual stuff, music and lyric-writing got re-channeled into performance art and composing for choreographers and experimental theater. I also formed a group called Vocal Repercussions that did totally improvised vocals-only performances, where abstract vocal sounds morphed into words, free-associated texts, rhythms and harmonies. Then I moved to NYC and got obsessed with groove. I studied African drumming, played in samba bands and had a hip-hop thing with rapper D.A.V. called Medicine Crew. Hip-hop was an easy transition because I was already into looping and collaging, but in an abstract mode, and my performance poetry worked in a rap format. I was always into groove since I was little - funk, salsa, African drumming, calypso, samba and reggae. A couple years later I got back into songwriting and all that stuff merged into songs and electronica when I became Polarity/1. And that led to film scoring and collaborating with Rubio on Audioplasm, which led to Koko Dozo. And recently I circled back to the art scene, scoring for Battery Dance Company and Quorum Ballet from Lisbon.
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[Rubio] My very first band I was in was ruled with an iron fist by this absolute tyrant and it was a real wakeup call. Those were also very fun times, of course. After a couple years in my hometown of Winnipeg, Canada, I moved to Toronto for six years before coming to NYC in 1997. I've done just about every kind of gig you can think of in that time, both live and in the studio.
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[Amy Douglas] I had been gigging steadily in my own bands, ranging from funk to rock. I was part of a group of downtown artists known as the "Homocorp" scene. I was [also] a part-time member of the Squeezebox Band - the same Squeezebox they recently released a film about at this year's Tribeca Film Festival - and basically spent my 20s either gigging, doing sessions or hanging with drag queens and getting into trouble.
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[Mark Kirby] How did the three of you meet and get together?
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[Rubio] I had met Polar in 2003 through a mutual friend, a drummer called Curtis Watts, with whom we had a mutual interest in samba. We hit it off and started working together sporadically. In the fall of 2005 we decided to completely redesign Polar's studio with my help and work on each other's projects. That blossomed into us working together on some production stuff, mainly soundtracks for documentaries, and an instrumental collaboration called Audioplasm.
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[Polarity/1] Rubio and I were working on the Heavy Meadow album at the same time he was working with Amy in her "Red Hot Mama" show. He suggested the three [of us] get together to see if we could come up with something interesting.
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[Amy Douglas] I had a show called "Red Hot Mama," which was a rock vaudeville show, and I had hired Rubio as the keyboardist, and we really hit it off. When the show folded, he introduced me to Polar, the two of them having done a project called Audioplasm. I am way happier in Koko Dozo than I've been in just about anything I've ever done. We got together on a super hot summer day in 2007 and realized we had a great capacity to make incredible music based on our collective musical passions and influences, which also include a group devotion to Brazilian music, Afrobeat, and Latin music, so we really had quite a stewpot brewin' by the time we started to write songs.
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[Mark Kirby] How did you arrive at the name Koko Dozo?
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[Amy Douglas] At the risk of hurting myself by patting myself on the back, I have to take the credit for it. My ex-boyfriend had mentioned wanting to do an avant-garde project and he threw out Koko Dozo as a trial name. When we were thinking about names, I threw it out there, and the guys liked it. I think it's fab. [My ex-boyfriend] did so little for me while we were together, [so] at least he gave the band a great name.
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[Mark Kirby] What is the musical concept of the band?
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[Amy Douglas] It's a really huge one. First and foremost it's to virtually force people to have to really listen to what we do, and to help audiences that have been pandered to and been reduced to some sort of lowest common denominator grow some brain cells back. The music is obviously a ton of fun, it puts you in the mood to do some serious dancing and there's more than a healthy dose of silly swirling around in the mix. But really listen to the words and you'll hear that we have some deep issues we're struggling with and we do address them in our songs, ranging from our distrust of our government, to the polarization of culture in our home of New York City and a whole bunch of other things. Our musical concept is to shrink the globe as well; the internet has made the world a smaller place and we wanted to find a way to fuse cultures, languages, styles and influences together in a way that reeks of New York City life, but will appeal to an audience that is truly global.
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[Rubio] Generally, Polar handles the arrangements and the drum and percussion elements. I come up with harmonic ideas, play most of the keyboard/bass-type things and mix the tracks. Amy is the voice of the project and handles melodies. Obviously, there is a lot of overlap. There is one song I arranged and produced ("Boomchi"). Polar and I each do one lead vocal ("Kokodozonomics" and "The Heart," respectively). There are songs where Amy did the chord structure and played keyboards. Polar is very avant-garde and always pushing the envelope. Amy is very melodic and tends to create things that are catchy and mass-appealing. I'm kind of in the middle.
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[Polarity/1] We have an open source attitude about music. Between us, we've worked just about every genre category there is and we don't feel any compulsion to restrict where we go. Each song has a strong identity of its own but they all sound like Koko Dozo. Conventional wisdom dictates that our way of working will guarantee that we'll never find an audience. But we know that's bullshit. The post-corporate online music business has made it okay for people to trust their intuitions about the music they discover. An amazing variety of people are responding. We're reaching young electro heads, world-beaters, dance-clubbers, boomers, electronica geeks, and po-po-pomo gonzoid hairy-backed noiz gimps living in the basement of the basement on diets of sticky buns and penis butter and toe jam sandwiches. The parents and the kiddies like us too. And we write in different languages (English, Spanish and Portuguese) which reaches out even further. Also we have this whole bargain-basement-space vibe that makes things really fun.
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[Mark Kirby] What is the story behind the Sun Ra-esque (a new word!) dress and alien mythology?
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[Polarity/1] Here's the story: we came from outer space and landed on Earth to exploit its resources - and for other reasons that we'd rather not discuss. We're from the low-rent part of the universe where you wear whatever is lying around in the alley on garbage pickup day. That, coincidentally, is the same galaxy where Sun Ra came from.
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[Amy Douglas] {Laughter} Well...the word "alien" permeates much of what we do and we like to riff on the term. Alien, as we mean it internally, is the feeling of not being comfortable in one's skin, feeling out of synch with the world around you, feeling like the constant outsider. And we decided to really play with the word, and we decided that a space age "alien" theme would suit us wackos pretty well! Besides, it gives me an excuse to wear wigs and glitter, which I feel I was born to do.
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[Rubio] We really wanted to put the fun and craziness back in music. Too many projects take themselves too seriously these days, which is BEYOND ironic.
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[Mark Kirby] Describe the writing, recording and producing process for this CD. Were you all in the same studio at the same time?
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[Polarity/1] Since we work in my studio, I'm there for the whole process. Generally, I show Amy and Rubio a track that I think would work for Koko Dozo. It might be just a sketch, almost complete, or anything in between. I might have complete lyrics as well ("Face On The Dancefloor," "Kokodozonomics") or just a rough idea for lyrics that Amy and I will collaborate on ("Shine"). Or Amy and/or Rubio will take one of my tracks and turn it into a song ("Second Time," "The Heart"). Sometimes Amy has a song and I build a track around her chord changes, melody and vibe and help with the lyrics ("Down"). Rubio and Amy wrote "Boomchi" together and Rubio produced that track.
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Rubio is the guy with the engine-ear. He comes in when a track is pretty much laid out and starts tweaking things. Then he'll add his keyboard solos, sometimes bass and the more harmonically dense keyboard stuff. I do keyboard parts that don't require big chops. Then Amy comes in and we track vocals. Rubio and I finish the mixes with Rubio in the big chair. Joe Lambert masters everything at Trutone Studios. He's done all the Polarity/1 stuff and Heavy Meadow too. Lately Amy has been playing some keyboard parts.
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[Rubio] As far as recording, we were generally all there. I personally NEVER record final voices without someone else in the room to give me a sense of perspective. Polar did a lot of editing on his own but often that job fell to me as well. The mixes were generally done with Polar and me, and we would send roughs to Amy for her input.
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[Mark Kirby] What is your live show like? Is there a full band?
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[Amy Douglas] It's a full-on brigade of madness! We operate as a trio, currently using our tracks and the addition of live keys and guitar, bass and percussion.
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[Rubio] I would love to have a live band, but right now circumstances and logistics just don't allow it. The three of us do perform live, though. Polar plays electronic drums, guitar and hand percussion, I play keyboards live and we all sing. We use versions of the tracks that are customized for live shows, so what you hear on stage is not necessarily exactly what you'd hear on the studio version.
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[Polarity/1] Our shows are fun for us, and I suppose audiences love to watch grown people making funny noises up there and bouncing around like homeless space mutants. Amy's wigs and Rubio's Viking helmet are worth the price of admission. And gazing at my psychedelic death-ray yarmulke is a life-affirming way to blow off shabbos.

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