Interview: Death From Above

interview by pr!

Melodic. Chaotic. Something between noise, rock and… sampled indie? Not sure how to describe an artist like Jessie Keeler and his current ‘band’, Death from Above, or his side project Femme Fatale, but one things for certain: it’s good. Damn good. The Femme Fatale release, “As You Sow, So Shall You Reap” is a tasty treat for those who enjoy ‘quirkindie’ (yes, that’s quirk and indie put together). Fans of the Locust will be pleased to find a similarity without the chaos. And they’re Canadian, so there ya go (?). And so begins my conversation with Jessie.

Am I too early?

Didn’t we say 7pm? Are you that early?

I was just listening to your music.
Femme Fatale?

Yeah. Is that FF’s only release?
No, that’s actually the 2nd record. The first is out on a German label called Beta Beat but it was delayed until this month so they came out in the wrong order.

That’s funny. Why was it delayed?
The guy who runs the label also has a record store in Berlin, and it was coming out while he was moving the store… so it was just a bunch of things at once I guess.

Is he a Nazi?
(laughs) no, that’s a sensitive subject over there.

Why a label in Berlin, anyways?
My old band toured over there in 1999 and we met then. We kept in touch and when he heard I was doing Femme Fatale, he said he wanted to put something out.

Listening to Femme Fatale makes me ask: do you smoke?
(laughs) What gave it away?

Just felt it. Smoking now?
(laughs) No, not right now. My roommates are bugging me to put the punching bag back up. It got knocked off the ceiling the other night.

Lots of anger for Canadians.
They are gone now. Its not really anger; it just feels good.

So, you wrote and performed everything on this LP. Same with the other? And why?
Femme Fatale is just a name for my solo project. Like I could have called it Jesse F. Keeler I guess, but naming things sometimes makes you take them more seriously. I dont like compromise and I was really sick of the people I was working with at the time so i did my own shit and thats that.

Working with i.e. playing music with?

And Death from Above is a totally different style of music. You formed that band as well, or did Sebastien?
I started Death from Above by myself and asked Sebastien to sing, then it evolved since we live together we worked on it a lot

You can’t sing very well?
Notes? sometimes. I sing on the death from above record but not too much.

Do you ever practice in the mirror?
No. Do you?

Whatever works.

I’ve been listening to that DFA CD since it came out… what’s up with the conceived/recorded: 9/11/01 – 9/22/02 thing?
Its just how it worked out. I was playing bass with the drum machine watching your country get blown up, and we just happened to finish mixing a year later. When we realized it we laughed.

Is it nice living in Canada without all the Bush drama?
We have our own drama. Our leader is an idiot and he thinks he is the king of canada. We cause shit and then hide behind America. But there isn’t a country in the world where people are all happy with the government.

Isn’t that one of the unsolvable things about government though? I mean, what’s the most realistic percentage number the population can be happy with the gov?
It’s just how I’d goes when you try to get people to agree on shit. Part of the reason I started femme fatale I guess as well. No compromising factors other than my own inabilities.

Are you the factor, or was it them?
Bit of both I guess. My desire to make things work gets me to bend.

Getting back to DFA what would you say would be the closest genre?
Hmm I don’t know really. Its rock music, following old traditions but it sounds pretty new.

What’s the best band nobody knows about?
La pest. No I don’t know. Cormega is my real answer but he’s an MC not a band

What’s the worst band you cant wait for people to stop liking?
Nelly. I know he’s not a band either but fuck I hate that guy.

What makes you sad?
When people assume everyone agrees with them.

Final thoughts?
Listen to more rap.

Oh, and I had another question: was it a choice, or did Ache (records) choose vinyl for FF? I really like the Record but no EP CD?
I don’t buy CDs so I didn’t think of making them either. Both records will be out on a CD eventually.

Big into rap, huh? Let me list the five rap artist CD’s I have, and you tell me if they’re cool, okay?
Sure. Remember you are on the west coast. Shit is different.

And your northeast?
You are near LA; I am near NYC

Ok list away.

1) Easy E: Straight Outta Compton
Yes. Eazy E will always be cool.

2) Notorious BIG CDR compilation
Is that the best of? Biggie was real, of course.

No, an Internet mp3 download thingy.

3) People under the Stairs: O.S.T.
I don’t feel it, but they did a good remix of ‘freaky to you’ on some ubiquity comp of old shit.

4) Tribe Called Quest: CDR compilation
Tribe were good… so many classics .

5) 3rd Bass
Gas face! Of course man. They put NAS on with large professor. They had foresight.

And they beat up Vanilla Ice in a video
And they sampled spinning wheel so they know what’s up. Pete Nice is still doing shit in rap today too.

Damn you’re all up in the hip-hop. From listening to your music… I didn’t get that. Although now, listening to FF, I can see it.
Femme fatale is a rap record. It just didn’t come out very rap, that’s all.

Like Limp Bizkit?
(laughs) please no.

No love for the Bizkit?
I wish I ran a major record label and could decide to spend millions pushing my own shit.