After discovering the music of My M.O.on the This Is Real Music site, I followed a link to their website and continued listening. On the “music” link of their site, several tracks can be heard for free, to be released on their upcoming “Monkey” album. “Monkey” is also the name of the title track
This Brooklyn based band, signed with Unemployable NYC, is comprised of three young women whose musical style is a harmonic blending of sounds that create a thumpin’ pop mix of ethereal beats and lyrics, though it should be said, that because the band has such a subtle hand in culling together such a broad range of sound, it’s nearly impossible to peg them into any specific genre.
So, let’s just say this: The music is damn good, which has now led to an a group email chat with myself and the band.
What’s Your M.O.?
An email interview with My M.O. by Max Eternity
Hello to all, and welcome ! Let’s start with a proper introduction…names, titles, and who’s from where?
Dion McKenzie: Guitar/Vocals–from Jamaica
Katy Walker: Keys/Vocals–from Texas
Erika Buestami: Lead Vocals/Bass–from Australia
ME: Can someone tell me what MY M.O. stands for? Who thought of it and why?
Dion McKenzie (DM): My M.O. stands for Modus Operandi, which means mode of operation. Katy came up with the name and I thought it was clever. Our M.O. being music, the name is very fitting.
Katy, care to elaborate on the significance of our band name.
Katy Walker (KW): Hello Max. I’m Katy Walker. Not sure about my title (laughs).
I’m from Texas but have been living in Brooklyn for 8 years now.
The name stands for Modus Operandi which is Greek for “mode of operation”. I think it came to me while Erika and I were driving to a Peaches show at Terminal 5 if I’m not mistaken. It could have been at another time, but the idea is that music is our mode of operation essentially. Maybe it was that same moment, but I then thought about naming the album “What’s your Modus Operandi?” Not long after that I wrote a track with the same name, which is definitely one of the hotter more upbeat tracks. Maybe that wasn’t the exact timing but it all just made sense. For me, music is my number one source of motivation, my greatest passion, and I think Erika and Dion feel the same way. So it just stuck.
DM: Well I think the name came way before that when you and I were trying to come up with band names earlier last year. Just to refresh your memory Katy.
KW: Right, the band name did come before that. Its all sort of a blur but Dion and I wrote a bunch of songs together before adding Erika and officially putting a band together. We found our sound just messing around with musical ideas and that’s when “What I Want” was written so yeah I think the band name came shortly after we wrote that.
ME: And somehow you all wound up in Brooklyn, but exactly how did you all meet?
Erika Buestami (EB): I met Katy through Katy’s DJ partner Mike Schwab. I was introduced as an engineer but ended up being in the band. On the day Katy introduced me to Dion, we all wrote ‘Bonfire’ in n hour, developing an instant musical chemistry.
KW: Dion and I met thru my boyfriend at the time, were we went to Union Pool in Brooklyn for a Fader Mag party and hit it off.
DM: Well, I’ve been living in NY for 8 years. I moved to here to attend art school. I moved to Brooklyn from the Bronx in 07 and been living there since. As Katy mentioned before, we met at a Fader Magazine Party at Union Pool, Brooklyn, like two years ago. I was introduced to her by my roommate at the time, who she was dating. We had a mutual interest in making music and we have similar influences, so we met up and started this project that developed into My M.O. Then last year, I was introduced to Erika through Katy, and that same day we wrote Bonfire and it was simply meant to be.
ME: “Bonfire”, great song–what’s it about?
DM: Thanks, Bonfire happens to be my favorite track to perform. It’s such a feel good upbeat song. When we wrote it, we were basically goofing around, which we have a tendency to do, yet it’s a very efficient way for us to write. Our personalities are so different but they compliment each other and Bonfire is that song that represents our strange dynamic. Erika came up with majority of the lyrics, and Katy and I composed the music. As for the meaning of the song, Erika and Katy might have a different take on this, but for me, it’s a representation of the changing of the seasons and embracing summer and all the fun times it brings. Mr. Bonfire man is an actually dude that made bonfires on some beach located in Puerto Rico, this is according to Katy of course. But also, correct me if I’m wrong Erika, you got your inspiration from your days back in Cali where you would enjoy bonfires on the beach?
ME: A moment ago, Katy mentioned Peaches. Is she an influence?
KW: Peaches is definitely an influence for me, maybe not so much musically but in the sense that she’s a crazy-ass woman doing her own thing. I was her web designer for about a year, so we got hooked up to two of her shows. She is so creative with her live show, it was a big inspiration to me to see her pull off all sorts of crazy shit with a live band, lasers and video projections etc.
ME: Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been listening to your songs, intrigued at the unique sound that you’ve created as a band, but also thinking to myself–wondering what genre I might describe your music as. This is to say, that I hear a multitude of influences in your tracks. I’m thinking Stereolab, AIR, Daft Punk, The Go Go’s, Cocteau Twins, The Fugees. And of course that snare drum says Peaches. I don’t mean to reduce your uniqueness to a sound-byte, but if asked, I’d probably have say something like, My M.O. is down-tempo ambient lounge hop.
Anyone care to comment on this?
KW: Well the sound is not exactly down-tempo, we have up-tempo songs coming out on our Monkey Remix EP and 10 other songs that create some different vibes for the listener. I would say the songs tend to be dreamier and spacey and definitely mellow, music relaxes me so I tend to write stuff that is sort of calming I suppose. Air, Daft Punk, Cocteau Twins, Massive Attack and the Fugees were definitely on repeat for half my life, but I think the sound has evolved to being influenced more by TV on the Radio, Kenna, Blondie and other artists that mix genres and to me its just Pop music at this point, but sort of outside of the mainstream. Dion brings the Indie sound with her guitar playing and Erika brings the hip hop flavor too but we’ll have to send you more of our music (smiles).
ME: What about your songwriting process–how would you describe it? Which comes first, lyrics or music? And would you say your sound has a particular message or theme that ties the band together?
KW: The music is written in many different ways, only thing that’s a constant is using logic to record in chord progressions and beats then layer guitars, vocals.
It’s cool when the ideas for a song happens all at once, like the vocals come with the piano sometimes. With “monkey” I wrote the lyrics in a coffee shop in Amsterdam but then the chorus got rewritten like a year later. Bonfire was all at once, I think the more we write, the more it will come simultaneously.
DM: For us I think it’s a combination of the two. As Katy mentioned earlier, some songs we write lyrics first then compose the music. I personally prefer to compose the music, and then write lyrics that would fit the mood of the song. And I suppose a recurring theme in our music is trials and tribulations of relationships.
ME: As an artist myself, I know that it can be overwhelming creating new work, while working on the production of existing work, setting up shows, and still trying to have a life outside of work. Although for artists, whatever the type, to live is to create. But, what about the future vision you might have for the band–finding your niche, and balancing creativity with real world success? Are these things challenging to you, and if so how do you find a resolve to go beyond anything that might try to get you down?
KW: It’s tough to juggle work with music but I’m a web designer so there is a connection. I don’t have a husband or family, sacrifices have to be made. At 32 that’s really tough to hold off on love but I am meant to create, it’s therapy, like yoga or going to a spa so I don’t feel I have a choice. I’m happy writing music and playing music, simple as that.
We are all kind of crazy outlast misfit types. We never really fit in so with this band we have a crew. We understand each other, that’s what ties the music together.
ME: So tell me about the song “Monkey”, which is fantastic, by the way. Also, did I hear someone say My M.O. is working on a 10 track album–set to come out sometime soon?
KW: thanks! 🙂 The lyrics were written while I was immobilized in a coffee shop in Amsterdam my friend was working at. I had been there for hours and hours and at one point in order to keep my sanity I grabbed a pen and wrote and rewrote the verses like 10 times. The producer I learned most of my techniques from Mike Genato–we released an album in 2008. Genato and I did a random session one night several months after thatb and we came up with the music and tracked the vocals. A year later we actually rewrote the chorus and Dion and I recorded the chorus for My M.O.
EB: The song ‘Monkey’ was made before I was a part of My M.O. I fell in love with the song, it’s what drew me to the gals> It’s totally one of my favs out of the album and I’ve been teary-eyed from time to time when I hear the song.
I’m an audio engineer so right now I’m in the process of mixing the tracks for our mid summer release. We just shot the video for Monkey, which will be released online this July.
ME: Thanks for taking the time to speak with me–any last words, things fans might need to be aware of?
KY: This august the monkey remix EP will be distributed internationally in online stores, it features 3 remixes and 2-3 new songs. By November the 10-12 track album will be released and hopefully well be on tour throughout the US then Australia, NZ and Japan!
EB: Thank You Max. Last word, I think we should open up for Raekwon, people call us the Wu Tang band because of our ruff rugged and raw image and sound. If you read this Rae, let us open up for one of your shows, and yo we should collab good! WU TAAANG! Word!
This article was originally published @ Eklektx.com