Blip Blip Bleep

Since they dropped "Like Track Stars" last year, there hasn't been much of a break for New York natives Sean Han, JoJo Schwarz and Kayce McGehee, the trio behind Blip Blip Bleep. They're like the prettiest girl at the dance, or bacon on the breakfast buffet - everyone wants them. And we're not talking about a bunch of bums - indie films, Vanity Fair, ABC, NBC, Bravo, Nickelodeon - they're all after the follow-up to "Alarm Clock, Snooze Bar, Get Up". So what can you expect from "Like Track Stars"?  Sean gets into it: "It's our first full length, and it's sort of a loose concept album about a relationship from start to finish... we try to keep it fun and danceable, many songs have a four on the floor/disco thing going on." Throw together some fun as hell sound with some meaning behind it? You'll be just as into it as the huge institutions mentioned above. So pick up "Like Track Stars", and look into the schedule. There's a whole bunch more to get into, so keep reading for all the answers to the XXQ's.

XXQs: Blip Blip Bleep

PensEyeView.com (PEV):  How would you describe your sound and what do you feel makes you stand out over the others in today’s modern music scene?

Sean: I guess the term is electro rock or synth rock... we try to keep it fun and danceable, many songs have a four on the floor/disco thing going on. While there are many great bands doing a similar thing these days, I think BBB tries to push the genre envelope a bit. For example, "Don't Forget" starts as sort of a moody four on the floor track but ends with a live drum n' bass feel. Also, "Rock (Intro)" has a very poppy synth vibe, but it's counterpart "Rock (Outro)" has a half time heavy guitar driven approach.

PEV: Calling both New York City and Brooklyn, home, what kind of music where the members of the band into growing up? Do you remember your first concert?

Sean:  My first concert was Eric Clapton at MSG. It was amazing. My first CDs were the Simpsons Sing The Blues, Paula Abdul's Shut Up And Dance... maybe I should stop talking now.

Kayce: My first concert was Shania Twain. I was really into pop-country growing up for some reason...aka Dixie Chicks and the like, which is somewhat ironic considering country music is really the only music I don't like nowadays. 

Jojo: I spent the first 5 years of my life hanging backstage at the local opera house, watching my mom sing and dad play in the pit orchestra. So my first concert was probably the Magic Flute, or something dramatically Italian. In terms of rock concerts, my first big one was Santana. Other than that I grew up with a lot of MJ, Earth Wind and Fire, Deep Purple and then aaaaalll that 90s European pop and techno.

PEV: Tell us your take on the music scene in both the city and Brooklyn and what was it like trying to break into it?

Sean:  Well, I think in some ways it's not really that different - a lot of the same bands that play Bowery Ballroom might play Music Hall of Williamsburg or Brooklyn Bowl at a different date. At a more grassroots level though, to me the Manhattan scene is more about formal venues whereas Brooklyn is a bit more DIY - there are formal venues obviously but a lot more loft party type things (or DIY venues that are halfway in between the two). BBB tends to play more in Manhattan for some reason - and in terms of breaking into it, it was really just about convincing clubs you could bring them a decent crowd, and once they gave you a shot you'd have to deliver (and play well too of course). Though, you could probably fart into a mic as your act but if you had 100 people that wanted to hear that and buy drinks, you could play almost anywhere...

PEV: What can fans expect from a live Blip Blip Bleep show?

Sean: Dance beats, loudness, sweating and good times.

PEV: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you step on stage?

Sean: My first thought is usually either "Did I zip my fly?" or "I really hope all this technology doesn't break in the middle of the set". Which has happened and it's not fun.

PEV: Having all been in other bands before how is playing with Blip Blip Bleep different then those other works?

Sean: We have an unusual set up, where it's very computer based. So while we rehearse a fair amount for the live show, a lot of work is also done in the studio. It’s not a traditional band where you plug a few guitars into amps and start playing.

Kayce:  Well for me, the biggest difference lies in the genre. I have played as a solo acoustic act for years (playing piano and singing) but in BBB I'm playing two stacked synths. Even though they are similar to a keyboard, it's a totally different animal to be playing two at once and making sound switches during songs. Obviously, it's just a much more high-energy gig than anything I've done before.

Jojo: This for me is the first band that is this electro and four on the floor consistently. And what Sean said.

PEV: What was the underlining inspiration for your music? Where do get your best ideas for songs?

Sean: It really depends. Musically ideas just pop up and hopefully there's something nearby to jot it down or record it quickly (smartphones make this easy). Lyrics for me are harder - they tend to be about things that are top of mind at the moment, relationship stuff, life stuff, etc. Dramatic events tend to inspire song ideas I guess.

Jojo: Unless I have some weird inspirational moment walking around Brooklyn somewhere, most of my ideas just happen when I'm messing around with beats or a synth. Sometimes I try and channel certain aspects I enjoy about a specific album or artist and then try to make it my own. But most of it really is buckling down and putting in the hours.

PEV: Thinking back to when you first started out do you ever look back at your career and think about your earlier days and how you’ve arrived where you are today?

Sean: I mostly try to think ahead about how to keep things rolling forward and keeping up the momentum. It's a very different band now, I started it back in late 2006 as a sort of solo thing, and over the years the lineup has shifted a fair amount. It has settled really nicely with the current lineup with Jojo on drums and Kayce on synths/vocals - a much more collaborative project and totally new vibe. So definitely thinking about where we can go from here moreso than looking back.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the members of Blip Blip Bleep?

Sean: I'm pretty boring. The most surprising thing about me is I don't have a middle name. Also, I have 15 nipples.

Kayce: I am one of four daughters in the McGehee clan...and I have only one nipple.

Jojo: I have AAAHHLLL se nippols!!! And sey aahr Tschoerman NIPPOLS!!

PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew that music was going to be a goal for you?

Sean: Definitely, in high school, going into college and trying to figure out what I wanted to do ultimately.

Kayce: Not really a certain point for me-I started playing gigs when I was in middle school and it just kind of kept going from there. I guess it was kind of an assumed path for me all along. 

Jojo: I was constantly surrounded by musicians as a kid, so wanting to be one just kinda happened.

PEV: Tell us about your latest album, "Like Track Stars". What can fans expect from this?

Sean: It's our first full length, and it's sort of a loose concept album about a relationship from start to finish. One thing I heard about the EPs was people would like to hear some slower songs, which having an LP allowed us to explore. The title track is even a real, actual slow-jam ballad. As I mentioned earlier, I think overall the album has a nice balance in terms of genre - it's very dance-y and fun in general but I think (hope?) it goes to some interesting places that you might not totally expect off the bat.

PEV: Since the release of “Like Track Stars” in 2010, BBB you gained attention on an even wider scale. Vanity Fair licensed one of their tracks for the magazine's behind the scenes video for their 2011 Hollywood Issue; the producers of the indie film/documentary Dressedalso selected several BBB tunes for its soundtrack. Additionally, had numerous songs featured on shows like ABC's Castle, NBC's First Look, The Today Show, and Friends With Benefits, Bravo's NYC Prep, Nickelodeon's The Troop, as well as various popular internet programs. With all this great exposure, how does it feel to see your music showcased on a much wider stage than ever before?

Sean: It's really awesome and definitely super weird to hear the stuff on TV. Jojo and I went to the premiere for Dressed and hearing the songs in the movie theatre and it was... well, I guess it'd be pretty sweet if that happened a lot more!

Jojo: Hahaha Yeah, I remember sitting in the movie theater thinking "I didn't even play on this track, but this is soooo awesome!"

PEV: How is life on the road for you in the music world? Best and worst parts?

Sean: Well, we're really just now getting on the road a bit more these days. I'd say the best part is, playing music. Worst part, Kayce's burps.

Kayce: Best: Witnessing Sean and Jojo's bromance flourish before my very eyes. Worst: having to sit in the back seat---I get car sick, okay?! (hence the burps)

Jojo: I'm a huge fan of getting out of the city, exploring new places and playing to new audiences, so Kacye's oral-gas is a price I'm willing to pay.

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your career? What’s it like when you get to play at your hometown?

Sean: They're definitely supportive, my parents (who are pushing 70) try to make it to as many shows as possible. We have our biggest draw in NYC of course, so it's always our favorite place play.

Kayce: My family and friends are totally happy with my decision to move to NY to be involved with this group. They see it as me being able to live my dream. 

Jojo:  I couldn't ask for a more supportive circle of family and friends, even if I tried.

PEV: What can we find each of you doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?

Sean: Walks on the beach? Oh wait we don't really have those except for Coney Island which is gross...

Kayce: Eating. I enjoy food more than anyone I know (aside from Jojo perhaps...)

Jojo: Yeah, I think I win when it comes to eating. Also, I love playing ping pong!

PEV: Name one present and past artist or group that would be your dream collaboration? Why?

Sean: I would say James Murphy. LCD Soundsystem is my favorite act even if they're not together anymore. He's just so hilarious, weird, talented and awesome. The music is so repetitive but stays so interesting and his lyrics are meaningful and clever but always with some light heartedness which is an awesome delicate (and in his case, bad ass) balance. Clearly I am a fan.

Jojo: I'm in love with WAY too many artists at the moment, but here are some fav scenarios: hang out with J Dilla (RIP) and shadow him for  day, play drums for LTJ Bukem, perform Music for 18 Musicians with Steve Reich, or maybe get drum and writing lessons from Thomas Haake (Meshuggah).

PEV:  Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?

Sean: Besides Blip Blip Bleep? Well, I just got really into a band called Strange Talk that put an EP out this week. It's awesome, produced by Eliot James who also produced Two Door Cinema Club, another current fave of mine.

Jojo: I listen to a lot of obscure electronic music and there are soooo many underrated producers, writers and artists in the genre that need to be checked out. Some of my current fav's being Hudson Mohawke, Take and James Blake. Highly recommend checking them out.

PEV: If you weren’t playing music now what do you think each of you would be your career?

Sean: Running Sean Han's Eggroll Palace.

Kayce: When I was three I told my mom when I grew up I either wanted to be a mom or a bat...so...I'm thinking a bat.

Jojo: Either owning a Trader Joe's franchise, or living in a forest somewhere in Germany as a carpenter, making my own drums.

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