Strawberry Spotlight is a weekly feature on Strawberry Tongue Radio hosted by Lady Audio. She chats with the bands you hear, here, on Strawberry Tongue. In this edition, Lady Audio chats with Ben and Vafa of the band Introflirt.
This is a transcription of that interview which airs November 16, 1:00 EST, only on Strawberry Tongue Radio. You can also catch the re-broadcast of this show on Saturday and Sunday at 1:00pm EST. Be sure to tune in!
Lady Audio: Hey everyone and welcome to Strawberry Spotlight. Today’s guests are Ben and Vafa of Introflirt. Thank you joining me and how are you?
Ben: Thanks for having us, we’re doing okay we just got finished with practice. We have a show in the next week so we were running through the songs.
Lady Audio: Great! My first question is what attracted you to the realm of music?
Vafa: Like in general?
Lady Audio: Yes.
Vafa: That’s such a good question..
Ben: Being born (laughs)
Vafa: Ah – ha. (laughs) I remember when I was younger my parents playing a lot, of my mom, it was both of them, with my Mom and Dad we would listen to the radio non stop it was always a part of our our life. When I was very young, I would, maybe even under 5, yeah definitely under 5, like 3 or 4, my mom would do the dishes after dinner and I would would pretend that I was all the people that I was listening to on the radio and have this spherical block, not a sphere, it was round, it was a kind of in the shape of a microphone, and I would use it to pretend that I was all the people I was listening to on the radio and perform for the crowd that I imagined they’d be like where my mom is doing the dishes, so I think it was probably they’re performing aspect that drew me into music. I imagine, I couldn’t tell you exactly. Music has always been there and I’ve always been moved by it.
Ben: I still…around the kitchen…use utensils as microphones while I’m cooking.
Lady Audio: Awww, what attracted you to the realm of music, Ben?
Ben: Yeah, I have a similar background with my parents always had music on in the house and they started me early as a piano student learning keyboard so I was able to develop an ear at a very early age. But looking back I am realizing that I was singing and making sounds with my mouth most of the time more than any instrument that I was learning at any time. So that was kind of always my first instrument and it took me years to realize that and develop it and to get the confidence together to do that. But, I have a series of the experiences that most people may lay claim to as well, throughout my life, that show me different directions I could take with music and my connection to it has always been changing. But yeah I was surrounded by it from a very early age.
Lady Audio: Great! What do you, I’ll all start with Vafa, what do you like most about music and is there anything about music dislike?
Vafa: What do I like most about music? Well probably that I can use it to affect my mood or I can use it to affect how I feel in any given moment. I mean I suppose I dislike that aspect too. (laughs) Maybe there’s something I want to listen to but I know if I put it on it’ll just change my mood. I suppose the second best thing I like about music is the connections that I make with it. That it’s always there in the there is always something musical to see with that aspect of it. I suppose that’s another aspect I dislike becuase oftentimes on any given night there are a couple of shows that are competing for my time. So that would probably be I don’t know these are good questions that I can think about and I can answer so many different ways, honestly.
Lady Audio: Honestly you’re probably giving a pretty good answer that you’re being on the spot because those are the answers for the most honest.
Vafa: Yeah for sure.
Lady Audio: So how about you Ben what do you like most about music and is there anything about music you dislike?
Ben: I like that music teaches me about myself, on a very deep level. Similar to what Vafa said, in any moment it can enhance or change in mood and that’s very telling as far as the operation of my emotions and how they’re connected to my choices and my thoughts . So, music bridges that for me and also informs my connections to my surroundings. Music has strong associations of location for me. Growing up in the country I was able to explore that and then an applicable musician in the city it’s always interesting to see what kind of surroundings influence how my emotions are expressed through music. So yeah learning about myself and how I relate to my surroundings would be would be my favorite thing. I don’t think there’s anything I don’t like about music. There’s a lot of things I don’t like about the operational aspects of being a musician but those are learning opportunities, too, and opportunities to connect deeper to yourself and find out more about how you operate who you are, so I guess it’s not really a bad thing after all isn’t
Lady Audio: No, just a growing pain I guess. (laughs)
Vafa: Yes growing pains are abundant in my life these days.
Lady Audio: How did Introflirt get started?
Ben: I was having a very frustrating night. Very frustrated socially also creatively and I was at a show and was not finding it easy to relate to people and felt very much like an outsider and I came home and out of frustration decided to learn how to use a sequencer on the synthesizer I had it for a long time. And that turned into a song that really reflected where I was at emotionally and also socially and it enabled me to use some of the things about the music I was listening to at the time. And that turned into a song, and I showed it to some people, they were very encouraging and thought I should persue it. And it just snowballed from there. I recorded the first album myself and a two-year period of time. And then other people like Vafa, and our manager and sound person, Brandon, got involved, as it evolved.
Lady Audio: So how would you describe croonwave? I’ve read online kind of what it’s about but I wanted to hear what you had to say about what croonwave is.
Ben: It’s a play on the new wave all the other wave genres that are out there. It seems like every other week there’s some new “wave.” But, it’s basically synth-pop, New Wave based music. I learned to sing in a piano bars, singing jazz standards and developing a kind of a forties/fifties crooner presentation. So it seemed like a good fit. A way to describe the music and how strange it really is.
Lady Audio: Thanks.
Ben: Your welcome.
Lady Audio: I really like the song orange light from the album Temporary Heaven and I was wondering if you could talk about it let us know what it’s about.
Ben: Heh ha. (laughs) Thanks, thanks a lot. (sarcastically)
Lady Audio: You’re welcome.
Ben: “Orange Light” is about a break-up really…
Play Orange Light
Ben: But not just any break up a very strange confusing break up, with lots of twists and turns. So in that sense so it’s actually, that’s a quick way of saying it. It’s about mourning a relationship, and approaching the mourning with a state of reverence and respect.
Lady Audio: Another thing I really like is Dying Everyday and what’s the story behind that song here?
Ben: So I felt like was happening at the time. That was out at the time when I was smoking and drinking a lot, and it was affecting my personality, and my moods, and my ability to be creative, so I was on a path to sobriety, at that time making the album. So I was treating myself violently with these substances and prohibiting my growth personally, so I would wake up everyday feeling like I was dying because I was not progressing an evolving. And so, that song was made out of the frustration with myself at doing that. So sobriety is a big part of my life, it’s kind of the only way I can personally operate and create without struggle. It works for me and so that song is about the path to realizing that and being honest with myself about that and getting there.
Lady Audio: Normally I would just do two songs but I want to do one more song because I really like this one it’s “Stars Again” and I wondered what that was about?
Ben: “Stars Again” I haven’t thought about that song for a while. We don’t play that live.
Vafa: I love that song so much. It’s got so many places in the song where there is just like the sweeps of emotion. With the synthesizer. What does it mean Ben?
Ben: I think that song is kind of similar that was written about the same time as Dying Everyday. I think it’s kind of about being burned out from pursuing something that wasn’t working
Play “Stars Again”
Ben: …and the feelings of being tired and frustrated that come with banging your head against the wall…so…
Vafa: Stars again…seeing Stars again.
Ben: So I think that’s just wanting to grow faster and uh, I had to look at the lyrics again to get into any more detail than that.
Lady Audio: It really has that letting go kind of feeling to it to me.
Ben: Yeah, a lot of times in my life when I reach the point of frustration with complacency and I realize that I have been complacent about something in my life and I get really pissed off and I just throw things or write a song or go into isolation for a few days which isn’t really all that different for me how I operate than any other day. I don’t really prioritize socializing anymore and I realize I’ve been complacent and I can’t do that anymore and then it just like giving up, screw it, let it go, and then whatever and that usually leads to some growth cuz I’m giving up holding on to whatever I’m holding onto enough to let that growth happen. Maybe you’re feeling some of that come from that song .
Lady Audio: Who else is hanging on that song?
Ben: That’s just me.
Lady Audio: So even that female type vocal is you?
Ben: Yeah that’s just me doing falsetto.
Lady Audio: Oh, that is lovely.
Lady Audio: So what new projects are you working on now and what’s the inspiration?
Ben: I’m actually recording some jazz songs with a piano player friend. Jazz standard songs that were written in between 1930 and 1960 and that’s kind of more of a fun project just to have that as a demo. I don’t know how much I’m actually going to release that, it’s not going to be like an album that’s available or anything available. So that’s what I’m working on right now as well as just following up with Introflirt stuff promotionally.
Lady Audio: And how about Vafa, do you have any other projects?
Vafa: I’m actually in school right now to learn more about music. I’ve had like small projects wiht a friend of mine that I was singing on and it’s synthesizer and electronic, drums, and then I have my own solo project that I haven’t really touched for a while. But the main focus in school is to just learn about me what’s possible in music or what has been made, I suppose, and then see what happens after that.
Lady Audio: Excellent where can people go to listen to and to buy your music?
Ben: Introflirt.bandcamp.com. Both albums are up there and some remixes then some other friends of ours have done.
Lady Audio: Yeah, I noticed the remixes there.
Ben: Yeah and we just released a remix today by a local band called Tremor Love that we’re playing a show with in Oakland next week. They remixed the song “Frozen Lace,” which was our first single off of temporary happen and we just put that out today, but, if you are listening to this later, it’s not really today anymore. (laughs)
Lady Audio: And now for a scenario and I will start with Ben. It’s late in the afternoon the shadows are long, the air is silent, and you’re standing by a pond. You are magically given the chance to be a bird and to sing a song. Which bird would you want to be and how would you sing?
Ben: I’d like to be a Mockingbird because they’re very versatile with tones and the shapes that they make, and I would do something improvisational based on the mood of the setting.
Lady Audio: And Vafa, the same thing except for your not given a chance to magically be a bird but, you do have, you’re in the same place and you do have many different natural things around you, and you have a sampler nearby that you could use any of the instruments, any of the things you find nearby to sample and to make instruments with your keyboard in there. So…
Vafa: A sampler….
Lady Audio: What would you choose to make sounds?
Vafa: I can only choose one of the things in my surroundings?
Lady Audio: You can choose whatever you want – multiple things, one thing….it doesn’t matter.
Vafa: I would definitely use the water from the pond, maybe like this maybe it splashes to make drum beats and use like and use like a twig running through the water and capture the sound of the two things meeting with each other. Probably hit rocks against sticks for percussion and probably use a lot of things to make percussion sounds and probably some bird sounds to create a melodic climb…
Ben: Mockingbird sounds?
Vafa: Yes, mockingbird sounds the sweet angel he is. (laughs)
Lady Audio: Thank you so much for that, and last but not least, and I will start with Vafa. What is your favorite flower?
Vafa: Awww geez. Probably the Datura (laugh)
Lady Audio: I don’t know what that last looks like.
Ben: Angel Trumpet Tree is another word.
Vafa: Yeah it’s a it’s a tree but the flowers look like trumpet and they bloom – they open – I don’t know if they bloom at night but they are definitely most fragrant at the night – you can smell them from 20 feet away. There’s something inside of them that makes it so that you have wild dreams and also if you were to use them you can make a tea that could kill you.
Lady Audio: Oooh….dangerous. Beautiful, dangerous and fragrant. How about you Ben?
Ben: I’m really connected to geraniums. There’s a lot of different varieties, there’s a couple different varieties that I like. I’m not a big fan of Pink is a color for the most part, unless its paired with black but, these specific pink scented geraniums just enthrall me so much. I actually work gardening part-time, and with a lot of flowers, so there’s a lot of different flowers that I really love. But geraniums are the ones that I have the most connection to.
Lady Audio: I like geraniums, too.
Ben: You’re located in California right but
Lady Audio: But, I’m in the mountains I’m right at Lake Tahoe.
Ben: Oh okay that’s right I’ve been meaning to go up to Tahoe. I’ve never been I want to explore it soon.
Lady Audio: Well, I wanted to thank you both for take the time to join me today thank you so much for being on Strawberry Spotlight
Ben: Thank you for having us it’s been a pleasure. A little Strawberry Tonge Radio.