Freezepop’s electronic topography is otherworldly. The band’s polychromatic aesthetic is richly galactic, but it is their vibrant catalog of extraterrestrial songs that makes the sweet ensemble from the human city of “Boston” one of our favorites at the office. The band, only a few days ago, crowdfunded a new album on Kickstarter – but the stretch goals are still burning strong (we need them to cover Lisa Prank’s “Luv Is Dumb” so badly). In wanting to catch up with Freezepop, we interviewed the inimitable Christmas Disco-Marie Sagan about dancing doctors, Spotify, and a certain incendiary Kickstarter campaign.
Rob Patrick: In the band’s Kickstarter video, you take a pretty fantastic jab at streaming services. As an artist, how do you think applications such as Spotify can reformat their business structure to build a positive relationship with musicians?
Christmas Disco-Marie Sagan: Heh, calling it a jab is just right. We are not trying to be jerks and make people feel bad for using streaming music services – I mean, I myself use Spotify (and formerly Rdio, RIP)! We just thought that check for $2.93 was so hilarious, it had to be shared with the world. And in a way they’re great – such instant and easy exposure for anyone who wants it, basically.
I think the problem is that they’re using new digital distribution methods, but the money is still stuck in the old pre-digital system. There’s a big problem around clarity for both artists and listeners, with where the money goes, and why it’s going where it’s going. But the thing about “digital” (not to go all Shingy on you) is that clarity is there for the taking – the data just needs to be democratized. And I think current crowdfunding techniques are an early form of where things are going.
Anyway, there are a lot of people way smarter than me working on the problem of fixing the music industry. I am a fan of the ReThink Music initiative by the BerkleeICE, for one.
The band has historically been really forward-thinking with merchandise, going as far as to make custom shirts and mystery items. As time has gone by, physical media such as vinyl, cassettes, and CDs have reemerged. Are you surprised by this turnaround in what has become a digital landscape?
Honestly, I am not so very surprised. I love having a huge easy digital collection of music, but I also love putting on a record. They’re symbiotic technologies, if anything. I’m super glad I’ve hung onto my Tom Tom Club and Prince records I stole from my parents when I was a kid.
What was the catalyst behind Freezepop’s Kickstarter idea?
We have been talking about doing a Kickstarter for years… but somehow it never quite felt right. We didn’t want to feel like we were ‘begging’ our fans. But as more and more of our friends have used crowdfunding, we started to see it in a new light. It’s a means to the ends of finishing a project… but there’s a whole other level of connecting with the people who care about what you’re making that you normally really only get at live shows. It’s like a little community. It’s not like, ‘oh boy money!’, it’s like, we are entering into a relationship. And Freezepop is ready to commit.
At press, you’ve already raised 25k of your 30k Kickstarter goal – with more than three weeks left to go. Were you anticipating this kind of immediate response?*
We honestly had no idea what would happen, but I don’t think it occurred to any of us that it would be fully funded after 5 days! It’s hard to have an idea of who and where and how numerous and generous your fans are, except when you’re playing a show and have that direct interaction. We are so grateful to our fans new and old, for and spreading the word, and of course, for your human money. I keep making all these “It’s A Wonderful Life” jokes at rehearsal. It’s just those IAWL feels, y’all.
If you’re a backer of the album, and donate a specific amount to the band, Freezepop will cover a song of the pledge’s choice. Would Liz be stoked if everyone picked Duran Duran tracks?
Yes. I have seen her do “Last Chance On The Stairway” in karaoke. It is magnificent.
Freezepop’s music has always walked a line between ebullient carbonation and sincere vulnerability. In your mind, what makes a great and venerable song?
[laughs] Wow, I will try to think some deep thoughts for this question. I think you always know a “great and venerable” song (which is a 100% subjective thing) just by that really deep -feeling- you get listening to it. Not sure how to reliably summon it forth in music-making. Linn drums and counterpoint seem to help for me, but nothing is 100% reliable in my experience.
Two of our writers went to BU, and we desperately need a BC Sucks song: how much would that cost?
Why, that would be our “#PRODUCTS” $750 tier! Sean T. Drinkwater (or possibly his clone, we can’t tell the difference anymore) will write you a real nice jingle for non-commercial use! But we prefer to keep it posi.
What are the odds of getting either the rad dancing doctor or Big Papi to appear in your next music video?
Depends on what the song is! If it’s a live concert video I’d put money on the dancing doctor. Can you connect me to his representation?
Freezepop has always been outstanding at posting great pictures and anecdotes on social media. How has the evolution of platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram changed the climate for musicians?
Aw thanks! We certainly do enjoy doggies and synthesizers and certain 70s sci-fi movie franchises.
I would say the evolution of social media makes it simultaneously easier and more high-pressure for musicians to share pictures of their synths. Sometimes we will hearken back to a simpler time, of Countrytime Lemonade on the front porch, and just showing an instant photo of your synth to a real human who came over to your house to see you, which they had arranged to do with you many months in advance and had inscribed in cuneiform on a clay tablet calendar. But the past is past, and I welcome our harrowing future of cranial implants and self-driving cars, all for the good of even more easily and instantly sharing photos of synths.
Finally, and least importantly, what’s something inconsequential that your band mates don’t know about you?
I used to write weird prank letters (a la “Letters From A Nut” by Ted L. Nancy) to chain restaurants when I was in middle school. The only one that ever wrote back was a Shoney’s. I was kind of a jerk.
*The initial Kickstarter goal was met shortly before print, but the dope stretch goals continue.