Sunday, April 23, 2017

An Interview With Adis of Ape Not Kill Ape

I was first made aware of Ape Not Kill Ape by my interview with An Atomic Whirl when they listed them as one of their favorite bands, and later when Val from Sojii shared them with me. I was first enticed by the lo-fi quality of their early recordings and their take on the noisy and artsy side of punk. The music had all of the emotion and anger of punk, but more variety, depth, and talent than most of the bands I've been listening to since starting this blog. But what really caught my attention, was the lyricism and manic delivery of frontman Adis Kaltak. After they dropped "Bushman", the first full length by the band, I was determined to find out what makes this band, and Adis, work.
1. What were the beginnings of ANKA and what inspired your unique and moody sound? It started for me around may of 2014. I started with jamming with people from college and I ended up playing some spoken word "songs" that I had written around that time. I enjoyed working with other people so I started looking for people to start a band with. ANKA went through several different lineups but the current one is definitely the most actualized form of the band. Inspiration is a tougher idea to pinpoint. For me personally, words have always thrilled me. Listening to Gil Scott Heron, Burroughs, & Nick Cave have opened me to some new ideas when it comes to sound. I just like to imagine it as human honesty across multiple mediums that work together. 2. Personally, I hear a lot of desolate and bleak undertones in a lot of ANKA's songs, both lyrically and instrumentally. Michigan is known for its harsh winters and post industrial landscape. Do you think living in Grand Rapids and being exposed to that sort of environment has influenced you as an artist? Somewhat I'm sure. I like to think that the person makes the environment. In some situations more than others. I just wanted to create the antithesis to the music that I was exposed to in GR & a healthy amount of music made by new bands. I don't know if we succeeded but the fact that we get to work together so much creates our own haven in this city.

3. Ya'll recently released your first full length: "Bushman" and three of the tracks: "Warm Dream/Warm Death", "My Own Hell", and "Into Dust", are singles that date back to 2014 and 2015. Is it safe to say that this album has been a long time in the making? What was the reasoning for including these older songs and how have things changed since you wrote them? Yeah we've been working on some of these songs for three years. It's mostly technical shit when it comes to why it took three years to release. We couldn't find a studio with someone that we trust mostly; there's a mixtape floating around America with 7 tracks that I recorded in my garage and room. That was supposed to be the album. At the end of it, we couldn't truly capture our sound until we met Tommy from Goon Lagoon. Each of the songs have their own respective beauty but we didn't really feel like they were "done" until we ended up recording at Goon Lagoon. "Warm Dream" has a more doomy theme now than the VU-like version that we had before. "Into Dust" has always been the same, Cam added a wonderful melody on the album version that wasn't on previous versions. "In My Own Hell" has more confidence in its suffering, not so pitiful, like the first version. 4. What made y'all decide that Goon Lagoon was the studio for you? Once you got in the studio, how was your experience there and how long did it take to complete the album? We loved the records that came out of there and Tommy was such a charmer. I don't know how anyone could say no to him. He knew the sound that we were going for & he didn't interfere most importantly. It took about three days to record and overdub everything. We knew the material so well at that point. 5. When it comes to writing material for ANKA, what is the band dynamic? How do you know when a song is "finished"? One of us just show up with a guitar line or bass riff and it just snowballs from there. It's finished when we make eye contact at the end of the song and we begin communicating telepathically.

6. ANKA did a Daytrotter session back in February. How did it feel to be asked to preform and record in a space where so many other amazing and influential artists have preformed? It's a nice studio with some great gear, but other than that it was a pretty straightforward experience. Drive five hours, play for two, eat Mexican food and drive back home. 7. You performed two new songs off of an upcoming album there. Can you tell us a bit about those songs and the direction the new album will be taking? "Project Diana" & "The Hunter" Cam came up with the bass line for "Project Diana" and "The Hunter" just emerged from a jam we had. I'm just providing vocals for those two thus far. As for direction, we just end up going where we feel is right. We're one unit now, we have our first album & we're ready to file the songs from Bushman as done & push into fresh territory. 8. Along with Daytrotter, you did some work with Orange Cap Pictures. How did this collaboration come about? I knew Andy from working with him on some Hailey & The Black Trash music videos. I loved his style, showed him our music & told him that we should work together once our album is done. He has three more videos for "Wilson", "Into Dust" & "Graveyard Dog". Those will be released every couple of weeks for the next few months. A video for every song.

9. I think the video for "Cops Kill" was very interesting and executed well. Where was this filmed at and who lead the artistic direction of this video? The opening spoken word is also very engaging. What was the inspiration and meaning behind this and more specifically, what did the lines "Where the retarded dogs chew on dreams, non truths, and bite at love. Aloof multicellular organisms with mutilated ideas for peace on earth," mean to you? It was juxtaposition between Goon Lagoon & our basement/house that Andy came up with. He wanted a spoken word thing to open it so I just sent him that old recording of me reciting that poem. It's mostly about child prostitution and how Grand Rapids is the USA's human trafficking capital, especially when artprize and these bigger events get going. It's to bring children in for these rich elites to sodomize and fill some bottomless pit of power. 10. When you write something like that poem with a very important and meaningful message, do you set out with the intention of spreading that message through your art or is your art just a vehicle for expressing the different thoughts and opinions you have? It's only for me to truly understand at the end of it. I enjoy the ideas that people explore through our art though. I don't really have a mission statement or a manifesto so to say. It's all human experience and I feel like it's relatable to most people.

11. "Wilson", the second track off of "Bushman", tells the tale of a disgruntled cashier with the power of magical cum. You represent some very real and everyday issues such as being overworked and under appreciated with lines like "Hoping his shit boss won't inject him with the rusty needle known as over time" and "Thanks boss; I respect every bone in your slug like being," but off set it with some more "comical" lyrical choices like, "He grabs his cock like a mother holding her child's hand across the street" and "But as he grabs the One Direction disk he busts his load." Was this choice to include some black comedy into to the song intentional and what inspired these lyrics? Also what the hell is the meaning behind this track? Hahaha, I wrote it while working as a cashier actually. I got a random boner while working one day and naturally I felt pretty weird about it. I started thinking of the various ways we're sexually repressed in society while at the same time we are subconsciously stimulated with sexuality everywhere we go. I began to imagine a "superhero" who is not bound by these rules of society, & that's how Wilson was born. The humor came (ha) partly from the way I was raised, Slavs have a very funny way of dealing with life's darkest issues so it came quite naturally. 12. This dynamic artists have between our work and our art is a strange one to say the least. What effect do you think being a working class musician has had on your art? Do you think that if you were still an artist, but never had to work, your art world be drastically different? Well if it wasn't for work I would have never met our drummer, Allen. I think shitty jobs/work are the backbone of honest art. Once that is gone I'm not sure how the medium will remain, in my case. It'll be different for sure, but maybe it's for the best. Nothing remains still, I hope we always surprise our audience. 13. "Risky" stands out on the record with its frequent build ups and driving instrumentation. The instruments build a creepy undertone for your vocals to haunt over. Lyrically, it sounds like you are playing with the themes of sexual repression in a sexual world and the danger women and children face in GR that you previously explored with "Wilson" and the poem before "Cops Kill". "Her sickness is showing/Over & over/She peers over shoulders /I wanna be free/God, hold me closer/Risky move, for a safe lady..." Where did this idea originate and what were you trying to express? I was driving around town with Mike, this guy who played guitar with us before Cam joined. This lady ran a red light so I said "risky move" which he replied "for a safe lady" I thought it was brilliant so I wrote it down and the lyrics just trickled down from that phrase.

The idea is about taking risks, playing with danger while trying to stay safe a the same time. A grand oxymoron. The idea I suppose was to create this eerie, sexual character that moved like the wind. She has supreme love for her powers but was living a lie "white girl in a white home...etc" so she broke through and made that "risky move"

14. Another song that was made into a video by Orange Cap Pictures was "Chain Gang Depression". I particularity enjoy the lyrics, "But here I am/Grasp the pickaxe & slam it down/With the force of everything you have ever loved/and I love the chain gang depression" and how you end it with building up "You think you're special?" Until you're screaming. Tell me about the story on this one and the story behind it. Another one I wrote at work. That cashier job provided me with quite a bit of down time. I just wrote it down as a poem at first, there were no plans to turn it into a song. I didn't think it would work as one. I just wanted something to wrap up my life so to say. I tried to keep it pretty vague, there's something quite misfortunate when it comes to dead on, personal lyrics I think. My family and I went through some interesting stuff you could say, coming here as refugees from a genocide. Like I mentioned earlier; I stray from writing about forward personal things in life. So this really put me in a strange place when performing it initially. Brett brought forward the melody and it was over right after that. I feel in love with it, it grooved right. I'm glad that something so personal can be absorbed by the people that listen to it and bring it up to their own light.

Also even though I slit my mother throat in the song we still cool in real life. People always seem to ask me about what my mom thinks about the song or why I wrote about killing her. Both of my parents are extremely supportive.
15.You mentioned that you came to the US as refugees from genocide. How old were you and where did you immigrate from? I was about 2 years old. So not really conscious of what was going on. We were staying in Slovenia, both of my parents were stationed there after being involved with the national army. We were by modern national identity "Bosnian Muslims" so there was no home to go to. We knew some people here in Chicago so we moved there & moved to Grand Rapids in 96'. Life wasn't so easy for us in Chicago & it was easier to find steady work here. 16. I'm sure this has affected your thoughts and opinions on American politics and culture quite a bit. On one hand, America was the country that "saved" you so to speak but on the other, it's a country rife with violent racial history and a more recent distrust for refugees and people related in any way to Islam. How did growing up as an immigrant in America mold you as a person and as an artist? What are your thoughts on the current state of American politics and attitude towards "outsiders"? I love this country, I'm glad that I was raised inside of it & got to experience the phenomena directly. But as a child there was always this separation between Bosnian Americans and Americans. I was living in two different cultural worlds. At home, it might as well been Bosnia. Yugoslav music was always playing in the living room. We spoke Serbo-Croatian at home; but as soon as I stepped out of my home I was in AMERICA. It must have taught me to create another dimension, so I could enjoy my existence within. I was always creating as a child, as well as living in fictional worlds. Video games, books, whatever I could find. I think without that experience it would have been impossible for me to find an honest medium for me to explode all of those yummy inner feelings into. I hate it currently, I always hated politics. It sucked in Europe and it sucks in America. The world is fucked and the most beautiful thing we can do is dance in the chaos


Daytrotter: "Bushman" Album Review: Edited by Haley Sczcepanski

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