Music is a Weapon has been making some noise for a couple of years. This coming Saturday they will be rocking the Vagabond alongside local Spanish-language punks G2 and Dutch DJ's Saskia Rocks and Geza Weisz for the big-top party Cirque Excentrique; featuring "Party Monster" himself James St. James. We recently caught up with lead vocalist Kala and bassist Brik.
New Times: Let's start with some usual shit, who are you guys and where do you hail from?
Brik: We are Music Is A Weapon, we hail from the sunny city of Miami, to be more specific Hialeah, but the rest of the world have probably not heard of the latter, so Miami it is.
Kala: I am Kala Droid, lead vocalist and I was built in Hialeah. Edgy Madness is our drummer, Hara Cha shreds the guitars and Dub Mandi sings as well.
Please explain to our readers your musical pedigree and how it relates to South Florida music.
Brik: Well it's all about South Florida, the three founding members of MIAW grew up in Miami for the most part. I hit South Beach in 1986, when it was still a haven for retirees from all over the states. A perfect place to find an underground scene, because no one really cared about what was going on past 10 pm because they were all asleep. So that allowed me to be playing in a band by the time I was 15. "Mother Mayhem" it was called, and yes it was a metal band, speed metal to be exact. We were pretty awful but we started doing shows as soon as we got six songs together. We played The Kitchen Club, Washington Square, The Trash Can, The Junkyard, Club Beirut and The Jungle Club. We couldn't leave the Beach, no one was old enough to drive yet.
Kala: My dog loves Pedigree.
Tell me a little bit about the Amsterdam connection, how that came about, how it has developed and what it holds for the future.
Brik: And so it began, Mother Mayhem became M.O.R.E. which led me to Hialeah where I meet the guys from Erotic Exotic who at the time of Hurricane Andrew was in need of a bass player for a benefit. So I went from a speed metal band to a Miami freestyle act; all my friends thought I had lost my mind. That's where I started to play with Eddy & then shortly thereafter Kala. Erotic Exotic became Liquid Sun which became Al's Not Well which became Al Is Well which in turn became All Is Well which then became 10Sheen. At the end of 10Sheen, we regrouped, Kala took over vocals & we were off to Amsterdam for a working vacation, that trip laid down the ground work for our connection to the city and to our Dutch family of "WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE" which is sort of an artist's collective. We have always been proud to be from Miami/South Florida & we always let people know this. We are already booked for another Dance Valley, which is a huge festival just outside the city, this time we are co-headlining our stage. We are waiting for more dates to follow.
Kala: We met an Elf by the name of Job (he is simply too amazing to be human) through a mutual friend. He has a company called "WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE" and booked us four years ago for a music festival called Dance Valley. We only had one show booked but we ended up doing like 10 shows throughout Holland and we laid out some serious ground work and have been playing there for the past four years.
Any notable differences between American and European audiences given your past travels? Any particular place you'd like to play at?
Brik: We have noticed that the Euro audience is a lot more receptive to multiple forms of music; less narrow in their likes & dislikes. If it's good music & a good show, then they are more likely to stick around and check it out. I love playing Amsterdam, the vibe there is awesome and the peeps are very artistically minded so the weirder you are, the more they are gonna dig you.
Kala: Yes. I would say people in Europe are more receptive to the arts. It's just what they do and with a different level of respect towards artists. My favorite place to play is in Maastricht, it's in the south of Holland bordering Belgium. They made us play our song which has the same name as the band four times one night. I loved it!
Throughout your musical identities, you guys have always done a good job of marrying organic and electronic sounds - any reasons why? What propels the connection for you guys as musicians? Likes/dislikes? Limitations? Freedoms? Aside from the great percussion elements, any instruments or styles you'd like to explore?
Brik: The fusion of electronic & organic was a very natural one for us being that Erotic Exotic was very electronic and when I joined the band I was bringing in a heavy organic rock sound which they were looking to explore. So we continued with that. We have brought the electronic in and out of the band over the years.
The current lineup is a very tight knit group, we are all very driven by the sheer love of Music. We have different preferences of musical genres but it's all music in the end. Our lives have been driven by music and there has always been a soundtrack in the background to all of our lives. We really don't have any limitations on anything that we do, almost to a fault to some; punk, reggae, electronic, pop, Latin: all of the above. No limits. Great bands play music, whatever that is, so we just play music. We have as of late found ourselves writing more mainstream music (whatever that is exactly) but that's because that's what is coming out. We would like to have a ten or twelve piece band, with dancers and to perform on larger stages in larger venues, our current style of music calls for it, we would love to be traveling circus.
Kala: Edgy Madness is a master on the MPC and most our songs begin with him then flow through to me which I create and write the vocal melody. My Hara and Brik add their magic and to top it off, Dub Mandi gives it her love and touch and voila! A MIAW song is born. I think as artists we get bored really fast and it's so much more fun to be creative and do something different and tread on new territory and see what comes of it rather than going in circles and doing the same thing over and over. I wanna do a song with a Banjo and I want Dub Mandi to play violin on a track or two but an electric one going through some distortion. We are always writing so who knows?
And finally, you guys are two recordings deep, what can we expect for the future? How total of a weapon is music in your opinion?
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Kala: When we started this group the concept was to help awaken the masses through our music so we write songs like "The Big Machine" which is about getting brain washed while watching the news and not believing everything you see on TV. We have the right to question all and investigate for ourselves. So we are using music to get our point across instead of going to war and killing people, so in that regard, Music Is Our Weapon. A weapon for doing good and helping other's awaken.
Brik: We are in the process of writing a lot of new songs; we have about twenty right now and hope to hit the studio with them real soon. Then we want to put together an album (LP), I know real old school, but we are old school. Put it out, find someone to distribute it and hit the good old road, hopefully overseas.
Music is, in my humble opinion, everything. All vibrations come into being and create our reality so it would be sufficed to say that Music can AND does play a huge part in life, whether one realizes it or not. We sometimes get flack for calling "Music" a weapon but in our opinion it is, a weapon is not just something to do harm but to protect and aide us as humans. It can win over minds and hearts, it can bring joy and happiness, it can soothe the soul... it does all that and more. It is our tool for change and love, but calling ourselves Music Is A Tool, would have put us in Jersey Shore and we are after all from Miami.
Kala: Peace and love to all!