Brooklyn's Butchers & Bakers brings together their collective New York and New England raised talents to the table. In an exclusive look at their “Emulator” video made by drummer Mike Morini; Rebecca Keith, Eli Jacobowitz, Hank Baker, take on the firework star-burst evenings in New England along with frat bar bro downs in Old Orchard Beach, Maine with an air of emotional liberation.
With fireworks lighting up the sky and bonfires warming the seashore; Rebecca begins the band's mission with the opening line, “up to me to save you”. The quartet makes their way through the old colonial states without need for directions or reminders, strolling past carnival games, community ballroom dances, and amusement rides that light up the fairgrounds-foreground in a backdrop of darkest night. The song combines the heart of human behavior, connections, and the codependent complications that bind and break the attachments between the most beautiful of lovers. Beneath a sky streaked in the bright color bursts of celebratory pyrotechnics; Butchers & Bakers carve out the wounds from wars of words and the internal battles from within that latch themselves on to the needs of another. And like the dazzling visual display ripped from the Fourth of July; B&B celebrate a whole other kind of day and evening of their own defined independence.
In the middle of CMJ madness, we found a moment to talk to Butchers & Bakers' Rebecca Keith and Eli Jacobowitz on everything from the song, spirit and video for, “Emulation”.
Would B&B care to share some thought on the track and video?
REBECCA: I wanted to have a video of us in an ice cave but since we were shooting in the summer we went with fireworks and beach hair. Mike shot all of it on a few trips up to New England, a lot on our first tour with Eli. We had a weird detour to a frat bar in Old Orchard Beach, Maine. It brought out some surprising aggro responses from certain yoga teachers in the band, but made for some sweet amusement park footage. Who knew piña colada could equal belligerence? Big ups to Salisbury, Mass too. Real love.
Inspirations behind “Emulator”?
R: As for the song itself, in a very early draft the chorus said 'where did you go', and Hank, our bassist was 'worried' people would think we were ripping off 'Sweet Child O' Mine', but the line just sucked and didn't fit, period. So now that part of the chorus turns the word 'gold' into many syllables. It speaks loosely to when my old apt. was burglarized, but is more about “gold” and “property” as a metaphor. The song as a whole turned out to be about having to be a cold hard bitch every once in a while, having to turn your back on someone you love because you can't save them, codependent no more or what have you, emotional impotence, bearing the whole weight of a relationship after the other person has already clearly thrown in the towel. The idea of architect and archetype plays into 'emulation'-building a character or identity. I had a lot of fun just playing with language in this song, like the lines 'hard to be unable / hard to be enabled', and 'architect or neighbor / I detect a favor'. And I think Mike's dope drum beat started the whole thing. The title came last. I wanted to call the song 'Gold, Obstacle” a long time ago… Maybe it's just about hitting a wall made of gold in an ice cave?
The concept of emulation in their own sound, how it factors in.
R: We wanted the drums in 'Emulator' to sound like Tame Impala, so done and done, or maybe that was in 'Brunch'. Seriously, I don't like to take a self-conscious approach to our sound, I just like to play what comes out, but I think Eli [our guitarist] spends a lot of time thinking about sound. In the past when I've been asked to describe what band we sound like or whatever I would freeze up, so I think I have fear of owning up to influences, maybe because how can you live up to saying you sound like a cross between, say, Kanye and Zeppelin…
Emulation versus imitation?
R: I think a bit of emulation is inevitable unless you live in a bubble. Halloween is my favorite holiday, so perhaps I'm guilty of both more than I'd care to admit. Not that emulation or imitation has to be a negative thing. Cindy Sherman built a career out of emulation and now people emulate her. It's like what Russell Hoban calls 'the last visible dog' in his book The Mouse and His Child -a can of dog food with a picture of a dog holding a can of dog food, with a picture of a dog…or when you stand between two mirrors like in a fancy bathroom. Okay, I figured there had to be another name for that, so thank you, Google. Also, Droste is the best cocoa. And the more sophisticated term means “placed into abyss,” which is probably what we should have called 'Emulator'.
Emulation on the digital level? Emulation programs for recording?
ELI: More apropos to the song, I'm a big fan of the Waves Kramer tape emulation plugin. The vibe is built on a single super-compressed ribbon mic about 6 feet away from the kick, recorded to tape. So you need a bit of grit when putting digital overdubs on top of that kind of sound.
Favorite video game emulators?
E: Emulation! Personally my favorite emulator is NEStopia – it even correctly slows down Legend of Zelda when more than 5-6 sprites are onscreen.
R: What's a video game?
What are you all most excited about for CMJ this year?
R: Super excited to see Desert Stars and Speedy Ortiz. Wish I could cut work to see our friend Bugs in the Dark. If Seasick Mama is playing something other than at the same time as us, I'll be there… if I'm not at work. I've been digging Royston Vasie and look forward to playing w/them. Wanted to go to that True Panther/Terrible Records showcase to see Empress Of but same time as ours. Don't we get some kind of backpack? That's always exciting.
Catch Butchers & Bakers tonight, Tuesday, October 15 at Fat Baby, 112 Rivington Street at their Official CMJ Showcase. Line up is as follows:
Butchers and Bakers (11pm)
Les Racquet (10pm)
Royston Vasie (9pm)
Birth of Joy (7pm)