Q: Hi! How did you come up with the concept for your song “Mamma Doom”?
A: We wrote it one night, it’s an out-of-body experience. We all see what we see with our personal baggage, a vicious circle, a constant brick wall… so after hitting it far too many times, Mamma Doom is an existential realisation about the relativity of perception
Q: What inspired the unique sound and style of “Mamma Doom”?
A: The song spoke by itself but we see a reminiscence of Mystery Train in Ben’s guitar with the song’s groove and never really get tired of the Velvet Underground nor of old blues classics like Slim Harpo. Zahara’s voice here piercing through with that eerie sound in the line of Karen O works so well. By the way, Mystery Train is also a great Jim Jarmush film with Joe Strummer and Screamin’ Jay Hawkings amongst the cast!
Q: How did you both meet and decide to form Strange Pill?
A: We met at The Premises in London when Zahara came to audition to become the third member of a instrument-swapping duo and we got on really well and started working together on our own project
Q: Your music has been described as a blend of existential psychedelia, blues rock, and electronic sound design. How did you develop this distinctive sound?
A: We listen to lots of different styles, from mediterranean folk to krautrock, post punk, noise, grunge, classic pop, blues rock, hip hop… as long as it’s good! Or at least as long as it talks to us. We’re also a combination of cultures, Ben being from the UK and Zahara from Spain -although we share common ground we also have a lot of different influences.
Q: You also create interactive video art pieces for your music. What inspired you to explore this medium, and how do you feel it enhances the listener’s experience?
A: After we wrote our songs we decided to capture all the recordings with video as well. Recording the tracks with video makes our process similar to tape recording in the way that we try to capture everything in one take, which makes it more organic and highlights a moment which otherwise gets lost in the surgical cut & paste production.
We like to highlight these moments also with video because it expands the aural perception of a song, by being able to isolate the individual performances, and brings the narrative of music to the foreground of the music experience. So all of those moments, the instrument, the character of each musician, become also relevant, tell further stories, transforms one wave into the multilayered reality of a song, in a multidimensional way. The visual reality of Mamma Doom, like other upcoming songs coming out this 2023, is a surreal interactive moving painting that can be explored via this link: ivm.musicjelly.com/watch/strange-pill/mammadoom
Q: How do you balance your roles as musicians, producers, and audiovisual artists in your creative process?
A: At core we are musicians, and write music like any other musician, but experimenting with music from a visual perspective has taken us to unexpected places! We go through waves of tunnel vision but it becomes easier as you embrace this kind of multiple personalities disorder -we do spend a lot of time hiding in our cavern dealing with it
Q: What can fans expect from your upcoming album and its corresponding interactive video art experiences?
A: Our album’s been a rollercoaster for us and brings together several challenging years. It was only when we began recording that we decided to use video and that’s been a process because we wanted to create something interesting whilst preserving the core feeling and meaning of the songs. It will be coming out at the end of the year and we’ll be releasing 3 more singles from the record before we bring out the album. Also our 4-track interactive EP The New Machine III will premiere at the 20th anniversary of 404 Art & Technology festival in Mexico city during 12-15 Oct 2023 coinciding with the next single release and as a build up for the following ones.
Q: How has your background in art and technology influenced your approach to music and visual narratives?
A: Our original background was music and started diving almost by mistake into the world of art & technology because we were seeing, during the so-called “crisis of the music industry” that the way it was building its existence in the digital realm was just from the perspective of song digitisation. They seemed to be looking backwards rather than towards the future! To us, streaming is a simplistic re-interpretation, overseeing the new media possibilities. So we started exploring other ways of creating and experiencing music in the digital realm with the support of the Arts Council, who funded our first ephemeral EP app, and the help of Middlesex University with one of their best computer technology students, Sean Henry, with whom we’re still working. Ben (Ben Hardy, Strange Pill) saw how video was going to be the next sampling wave – he’s a sort of inventor who likes de-piecing everything and rebuilding into new stuff, like the beginners of hip hop did in the 70s-80s; we talked for hours about the changing of times for music… and the meaning of visual narratives became also obvious with Zahara’s background in philosophy and perception (Zahara Muñoz-Vicens, Strange Pill) and her interest in analogue paper-cut collage as a way of re-contextualising and creating and discovering new meanings.
Q: What are your future plans for Strange Pill, and what can fans look forward to in the coming months?
A: We’ve got a busy couple of months with exciting things coming up and looking forward to gigging soon, we’re currently looking to have some dates by the end of November.
Following the thread of the visual narratives of music, we have spent the last three years turning our home into a retro-futuristic audio-visual recording studio using all rooms of the house: drilled it like a gruyere cheese and connected kitchen, bedroom, sitting room, and shed. The idea here is that the musicians perform in the different rooms, which are all linked audio-visually thanks to the support of Synthax Audio UK and Harman Pro using hyper-specialised equipment. It’s one of a kind, we call it Mashrooms audio visual recording studio and we’ll be launching it at the beginning of November, live-streaming the recording process of 5 bands performing live, two songs over two days for each band, a band a week, and we’ll be both producing and performing.
Building a live-performance recording studio with no bleed, zero audio latency and hyperlow video latency to feel like everyone is in the same room in a crazy space like ours has taken years of work so we can’t wait. The project is attempting to bring a sense of the Get Back vibe in the recording and performing process, where you capture magic individual and collective moments. All the recordings will become interactive deconstructable music-videos, similarly to Mamma Doom, to click on the different “rooms” and hear the individual performances, and somehow enter each person’s mind, all hosted, like Mamma Doom, in our new platform, which is also a labour of love!
So all in all, very exciting times and lots of things to finally pop out of the cavern.