Collide: Some Kind of Strange Interview

By Mike Ventarola

Chain Border

CollideCollide is a west coast underground band featuring the remarkable talents of kaRin and Statik. This duo has managed to globally seduce listeners since their inception. While a lot of underground music may have a bit of the prerequisite angst, very few offer something in the way of surrealistic enticement.

The band’s seductive quality largely comes from vocalist/lyricist kaRin, whose dark kittenish intonations draw you into each song on a cloud of mental Novocain. Make no mistake, the work DOES have many dark elements to it, however kaRin turns it into something pseudo-erotic. This quality is a natural byproduct of the vocalist which comes off with a lot of class as opposed to cheap exploitation. She is the human Goddess equivalent of Aphrodite and Venus in the realm of appearance and talent.

The other half of the duo is Statik. His talent has brought him work with many known bands as well as some who are up and coming. Down further in the interview, he is asked to give us a bit more information about this other work because many do not realize his great contributions to the world of music at large. Some of their work has appeared on television and film soundtracks as well. For Collide, Statik punctuates sonic elements that aptly flow around kaRin’s delivery. Together they work in an exemplary sonic symbiosis that manages to cull a hybrid of dark electronics that is at once left of center, seductive and passionate. Together, they are as physically beautiful as the work that they lovingly craft.

Some Kind of StrangeCollide’s latest release, Some Kind of Strange(1), takes the listener on a dream like carpet ride of musical reverie. On this release in particular, Collide crafted lyrics that are at once heartfelt and at times intentionally ambiguous for the listener to interpret as they see fit. KaRin doesn’t craft lyrics that are the typical fodder of conventional radio. In fact, she almost demands audience participation by listening closely to feel and comprehend your own reality from the work.

Some Kind of Strange maintains the dark elements that fans have come to love, yet there is also a much more industrial edge to a number of tracks. Through it all, kaRin croons like a siren welcoming the seafaring sailors of yore. Statik pulled out all the stops in his repertoire to deliver potent music. This release is unlike anything else on the market, yet it maintains a finger on the pulse beat of acceptable and contemporary dynamics within the musical underground. This release also has a number of surprising guest artists who collaborated with this talented duo which is also explained further on. Some Kind of Strange is a recording that underground music fans definitely need to investigate. Collide’s allure is long-lasting to anyone who ever listens to any of their work. From the many stickers posted around New York City declaring the band name, to the many musical featured television soundtrack spots, their fans are becoming legion. Words

Do explore some of their work available on the net. If you like the music, purchase it instead of swiping it from an illegal file sharing site. Creating music is a costly venture for artists. File swapping does hurt the independent artists more than many will ever realize. The only way to keep the music WE want to hear alive is to vote with our consumer dollars for the bands we have come to love.

Mike Ventarola: For those just discovering the band, list your discography and the best place where fans might purchase the work.

kaRin: A total listing with songs is available at http://www.collide.net/discography.shtml but essentially it’s:
Some Kind of Strange (full length CD)
Chasing the Ghost(2) (full length CD)
Distort(3) (full length CD)
Beneath the Skin(4) (full length CD)
Deep/Violet's Dance(5) (CD single)
Skin (CD single) (German import)
The Crimson Trial (self released cassette demo)
You can get them directly from our website at www.collide.net or at www.amazon.com, but get them from us because you might get something extra.

MV: Are any of your previous recordings currently out of print?

kaRIN: No, I think people just think they are out of print. 

Statik:  We had to end a deal last year with a distributor, so a particular pressing of Chasing the Ghost sometimes shows as being out of print, but there have always been copies of it, and everything else…it’s just that they're not always easy to find in stores because of limited distribution, which is why we like the internet so much.

kaRIN:  LOVE the internet.

MV: Describe how your current release, Some Kind of Strange, differs from your previous release, Chasing The Ghost. Also, tell us about all the guest artists appearing on the current release.

WordsStatik:  That’s always a very difficult question for me to answer.  Sometimes I think it’s totally different, and sometimes I think it’s very similar.  I think someone else has to answer that.

Guest artists on this CD include Danny Carey from Tool, cEvin Key from Skinny Puppy and Kevin Kipnis from Purr Machine as well as Rogerio Silva and X-8.  Danny and cEvin each played live drums on a song, which was a first for our sound.  Kevin Kipnis and Rogerio Silva contributed guitars to a few songs. 

kaRIN:  It’s always good to have some guests play on it, I love to collaborate with other people.

MV: Does Some Kind of Strange have a conceptual theme to it? If so, how did the idea come about? 

kaRINkaRIN:  I would not say that it has a concept per say, but as the whole thing came together it has a very earthy feel and the lyrical content deals a lot with taking responsibility for your actions, thinking for yourself and choosing your own path.  The songs just unfold themselves really.  They are directed by sound and what we are feeling.

MV: Do you provide ideas for your CD covers or are they independently created by the artist?

kaRIN:  It usually works out as a sort of collaboration…  we usually get a direction going and then pass it back and forth…

Statik:  …which is the same way that we work on music.  I don’t think we ever like anything without going through some changes and then for each of us to have a say on whatever it is we are working on.

kaRIN:  Which can get difficult, as we both can have very different opinions, but finally when we can both agree, that's when we know it's working.

MV: Where and when are you touring?

kaRIN:  So far we are still not a touring band.  It is literally the opposite of the way we work.  Our music is more of a sound collage.  We still need to figure out how that would translate live.

MV: In addition to being completely original, your music seems to belie subliminally seductive qualities; something that is rare and much needed in the underground. Is this sensuality intentional or is it something that just happens as part of the creation process?

kaRIN:  It is definitely something that just happens.  I like to use my voice as a hypnotic instrument.   I have a balanced kind of soothing personality, so I guess it comes out in the music.

Statik:  I’m not really sure how that happens.  We hear that a lot, but it never really starts with that in mind.  I think that it must be kaRIN’s vocals.

MV: Is there a romantic connection between kaRin and Statik or is this a strictly platonic business relationship?

WordskaRIN:  Statik is my favorite human being.   As to what our  relationship is besides music, we prefer to keep that private.

MV: Both members have also contributed to an extensive number of side projects. Although we can find a listing of information about these projects on your website, inform our readers of some of these side projects and your reactions to the completed work.

Statik:  One of our favorites was our remix that we did for Frontline Assembly.  kaRIN added vocals, so it was almost like a new Collide song by the time it was done.  I’ve done programming for a quite a few people, including Tool, Powerman 5000, Prince and even Michael Jackson as well as a lot of people that never even get heard.  I don’t even know how I got involved with so many different types of people.  At the moment I am involved with the re-formation of Skinny Puppy, and we hope to have a new record by the end of the year.

MV: Saints & Sinners is a side project of kaRIN. For those not aware, these are absolutely stunning steel cases for cigarettes, condoms, lipsticks and any other assorted type of holder. How did the idea for this actually come about?  

WordskaRIN: I have always been creative and made things.  I used to make jewelry out of anything I could get my hands on.  I also paint, so I was going around to art galleries to find out how I could get them to show my work.  I found this to be a very closed world.  Without even looking at your art, it was all about where have you shown before, so I thought… I'll just show them myself – so I began working them into items like cases.   Now I use all sorts of images into my work and often work with other artists’ images as well.

MV: Your track Wings of Steel from Chasing The Ghost was featured on the short lived television series, Haunted. Recently, a track from the new CD was featured on the show, JAG.  Has that exposure you helped obtain more work within the film and television medium? Are there any more television shows that will be showcasing your  music that you can mention at this time?

kaRIN:  I am not sure that it has helped us obtain more work, if it works for the piece they use it.  As far as any more shows that will be using it, I am not sure.  A big feature film would be nice.

Statik:  I don’t think that it helps our exposure, because no one really knows it is us during the show, but it does help to offset the costs that go into making a CD.  We need all of the help we can get.

MV: Although your music may be too dark and independent for major radio play under today's standards, why do you think there is an appeal for its inclusion in television soundtracks?

kaRIN:  I think our music is atmospheric, so it tends to work well.  We get used in stuff like underground dance scenes, or in spooky ghost related stuff.  Most recently for the show JAG, they had a goth girl character doing an autopsy that they used it for.

Statik:  Radio is weird nowadays.  I can’t even stand to listen to most radio.    It’s all corporate.  It’s mostly regurgitated.   I think that movie and television soundtracks are able to take more chances because it’s more about finding music that works for the scene, instead of being whatever radio is now.

MV: My initial exposure to the band came about from seeing a lot of Collide stickers posted in a number of places in and around New York. This lead to a web search to hear the band, which in turn created yet another fan. What do you think it is about your music that creates such hard-core fan loyalty?

WordskaRIN:  I think people can feel that it comes from a heartfelt source.  I hope that it brings something meaningful to their lives.  I feel that it has many levels that can reach people.

Statik:  I think that we try hard to give people something that they don’t hear everywhere.  

MV: You released a video some time ago that had many surrealistic qualities. For those who have seen it and still aren't sure, can you detail the intent and meaning behind the fighting fruit and the cowboys(6)?

kaRIN:   The whole video concept was the director, Kevin McVey's, idea.  We asked for surreal, which is one of my favorite things.   From start to finish, his concept changed several times.   He started with the idea that I be trapped underwater in ice.  After a few other ideas,  he told us the idea of the stuffed animals and fruit and cowboys.  We literally  HATED the idea.  I thought it sounded like a fruit of the loom commercial gone bad.  He assured us that he had a vision and that if we did not like the footage we did not have to use it.  So we decided to just let him run with it.  At the end of the day,  we LOVE what he did, and were very happy with the whole thing.  The other parts of it make it quirky and give it a lot of contrast, I like that.

Statik:  It’s the establishment beating down the weird people.  Initially I think the cowboys were supposed to be police, but I think for costume reasons they turned into cowboys.  Either way, still, when I see the strawberry screaming in pain over the pig that was beat up, it makes me cry.

MV: This may be an outworn question, however it is essential to get the input from the artists within the scene as they see it. Where do you foresee dark music heading?  Do you think the current world and economic events have strengthened or weakened the demand for dark music?

kaRIN:  Hmmmmmm… I don't know.  I know for myself while writing this CD, I felt the world was in a very dark place, so I had the need to feel a little brighter or more hopeful.  I guess if the world gets all cheery, I can be really dark.  When I get surrounded by sugary stuff, it always makes my dark twisted sense of humor come out.  Ultimately there needs to be a balance.

StatikStatik:  So I guess that our dark record was really kaRIN being cheery.

kaRIN:  Really I don't like anything normal or average, and to me what separates what's good and bad is…does it come from a pure place?  Like David Bowie's song, Couple of Kooks, written when his son was born.  I love that song…it makes me happy.   On the other hand, if I hear a song that is just manufactured to sell, like what I call "tell you what you want to hear lyrics" (I want to love you forever stuff), it has the opposite reaction for me and just repels me.  So for me, it's not about light or dark, it's about pure.  It just so happens that there is so much heartfelt material out of darkness and sadness.  The hardest thing to do is to write a happy song that is not sickly sweet.  Ewwww.

Statik:  I don’t think events have really made a difference.  For me it’s all about the music and the feeling.  Hopefully good music in any genre will somehow rise to the top and the crap will just go away. 

WordsMV: Initially, all the marketing guru's touted the expansion of the internet as a means to a booming global economy. In light of the previous decay from Silicon Valley, do you see the internet as a help or hindrance to marketing and exposing music to the masses?

kaRIN:   Ultimately for us it has definitely been a HUGE help.  We could never do it by ourselves without the connections we have made on the internet and having a full website to represent us.

Statik:  It’s really our lifeline to the world.  Other than the psychic connection that I have to people who have listened to our music, it’s our most important tool. 

MV: How do you think the music industry as a whole could deter illegal music file swapping to encourage people to purchase music?

WordskaRIN: That's a good question, as it increasingly becomes a problem.  Maybe downloads should be based more on an honor system where people are asked to give a donation to the artist if it’s music that you want to keep listening to.  At the very least, people should be made aware that never paying for music does hurt the artist and more importantly the future of music.

Statik:  Apple has really done well with their new itunes music store, with the exception being that I don’t think they are yet working with independent labels.  It’s easy to find music there and purchase it for a price that works out to be about half or less than it would be to traditionally purchase an album.  You get songs that sound better than traditional mp3s, as well as artwork.

MV: Have any of your songs been reported on an illegal file sharing site? If so, do you think it ultimately helped or hindered your sales and exposure?

kaRIN:   Yes we just heard recently that the new album was available for download.  At our independent level, it is still a good way to expose our music.  It is however interesting that so many people have your music, yet your sales do not reflect this.  And then you get people who write to you and say "I really love your music.  It would be better if you would put your lyrics on the website."  And you think WOW…if you bought the CD you would have the lyrics and artwork.

Statik:  We put a good selection of our songs from each album up on mp3.com/xcollide, so people can check them out who haven’t heard them before…so when someone comes along and finds and downloads an entire album, it’s just kind of a slap in the face.  Some people say that since labels don’t pay artists much, it doesn’t really hurt them.  I mean come on!!  What sense does that make?  If you’re not getting very much money from the label, then getting zero is ok?  The music scene is really just a drop in the bucket compared to the movie industry.  Once it gets to be faster and easier to transfer movies in a few minutes, I think we’ll see something happening with file swapping.  But until then, for us anyway…we just have to tell people that we are financing everything ourselves, and everything we make from any sale goes towards helping us to continue to make music.

WordsMV: Many underground music fans are under the impression that successful bands live off the money made for their work. Detail for us the "day" jobs both of you have to work at in order to make a new release possible. Also, outline some of the expenses of making a recording that consumers may not be readily aware of.

kaRIN:  As far as day jobs… I have always run my own design business… see above, where I make things out of images.  As far as the costs of making music…well that is extensive.  First, you need a full studio, a whole lot of gear and equipment to work with, the finances to fix everything when it breaks,  then you need to spend every single bit of spare time that you have either making or exposing your music.  I think in the last 10 years.  We have taken literally about 20 days off…well hey… that's almost 2 days per year.   Then, when you are done you need to master the CD, do the artwork, promo shots, make and maintain, and pay for website.  Have a computer, so that you maintain a database…the list goes on and on really…

Statik:  I did programming for other people for a long time, which ultimately enabled me to buy the equipment that I use to produce a Collide CD.  It’s a day job I suppose, but as long as I can make a living out of doing music, I consider it a good thing.

MV: Collide self-releases their music to the underground, yet are one of the most popular underground bands around the globe. What is the formula for this success to reach the market without the assistance or backing from a label?

WordskaRIN:  Working as hard as we can to make passionate, meaningful music that people care enough about to help spread the word.

Statik:  What does that mean to be “one of the most popular underground bands?”  Is that like being the most well-known unknown band?

MV: In your opinion, how many sales would an independent artist need to obtain to recoup the average cost for their recording and release expenses?

Statik:  I don’t think there is a number that would work for everyone.  Some people just make music on their computer and burn it to a CD and call it a day.    It all depends…are you sending out promo copies?  Are you working both Europe and the US?  Maintaining website costs?  Daily office/phone costs?  Ad costs?  After our CD is done, we really try to run our company as a business, and keep track of what we are spending, and where the money is going.   It’s easy to spend $20,000 on a CD for an independent artist…so you just really have to sort of learn as you go, and really gauge what you are spending money on.

MV: Do you find a growing demand for dark underground music since your first release or do you think it has remained stable?

WordskaRIN:  For us there seems to be more and more people finding out about us so hopefully more. I would not call us dark…twisted maybe.

Statik:  I would definitely call kaRIN twisted.  Kind of like a piece of licorice.  And I think more and more people are learning to appreciate licorice, so hopefully  we are somewhere in their tastes too.

MV: Give our readers some insight into the personalities of kaRIN and Statik. Provide your likes, dislikes, pet peeves, current favorite artists, favorite type of recreation when not working, etc. Essentially, give our readers some insight into both of your personalities that goes beyond the music.

kaRIN:  I am obsessive about creating.  I have an e-mail addiction and to my friends that know me well… I can be goofy.   I see all sides to everything.  I am good with advice and people I don't know have always liked to tell me things they would not tell other people.  I like making things, and dislike wasting time.  As far as recreation…hmmmmmmm I am working on that??

I would say Statik is funny and for the most part is better with animals than people.

Statik:  Yes I would say that too, animals don’t often annoy me.   I like to do anything in my free time where I don’t have to think too much…action movies, video games, training turtles to fetch sticks.   Pet peeve:  greedy record companies.  Likes: honest people, chocolate chip cookies, Mountain Dew, not wearing shoes.  Dislikes:  The person who stole my favorite turtle.  F***ing turtle napper.  Favorite last CD I bought:  Goldfrapp: Black Cherry.  Favorite bandmate: kaRIN.

(1) Soon to be reviewed.
(2) Reviewed in Legends #110.
(3) Reviewed in Legends #99.
(4) Reviewed in Legends #99.
(5) Reviewed in Legends #89
(6) Music video for Son of a Preacher Man.

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