“It’s hard to know how to effectively fight the battle.” BV

BV (formerly Black Vanilla) are one of the most innovative club acts in Australia. Ahead of releasing their second mixtape (B2V) this Friday, I had a little chat with Marcus Whale on facebook.

How’ve you been?

Lovely. Living a life of leisure, e.g. tonight I gazed at the moon while playing field hockey.

Omg I missed it, so cloudy here. That sounds like a really beautiful scene, how long have you been playing hockey for?

Since I was tiny! Like 8. I stopped playing in high school but have come back to it. I love playing sports, and most of my friends think I’m very strange, in a kind of reversal from my high school years.

I feel the same way about football actually. I don’t really have any interest following football today, but there’s something wonderful about the physical action of kicking it.

It just makes me feel really incredible. Even though we lose almost every week, I go home happy.

I think it’s super important to have something outside of creating.

That’s true, but I do also feel quite creative making it. It’s an immersive situation, just like performing.

There’s something kinda sporty about b2v.

I can see that

Apart from it being really danceable

Dance is a sport.
And an art.
Sport is art.

Like how I was thinking about what hockey makes me feel, BV is about immersing yourself, your body.

I can definitely hear that. One thing I’ve loved about the record is on songs like Run and Hunted there’s like no traditionally tonal instrumentation. Even the vocals seem to be more rhythmically placed rather than tonally.

Yeah! All rhythm. To that end it’s constructed as a landscape of transients hitting you.

The way that when you see someone live, that percussiveness is what you feel in your body the most. I was thinking that on Saturday, but maybe in a different way, when I saw Deftones at Hordern, the drums were like unbelievably loud, compared with how their albums are mixed, but that’s just what hits you in the bones

Absolutely. I remember seeing Lavurn play as Cassius Select when I was feeling super down and heavy one night. Dancing to it made me feel so physical, like all the thoughts had disappeared because my body had gone through such a workout. It was the kind of therapy I didn’t know I needed.

Do you mix for your live shows differently with this in mind?

It’s more like we make the tracks for the live show and for this mixtape we had to try and work out how it might work in people’s headphones and stereos and cars. Our first nature is to make music that makes sense in a room with a bunch of people in it. It’s actually quite hard to make the recordings feel right!

How is it working with Jarred and Lavurn? The record sounds like a perfect combination of all the music I’ve heard from you three, but it must be difficult sometimes to get that place.

We used to hang out all the time and just make music before everyone went overseas. Sometimes it didn’t work, but that didn’t matter because we’d just be having a nice time with each other. I look on it with deep fondness.

Most of the time we’d get together ahead of a show and try and make some new music to perform the same night, I liked the immediacy of that.

Speaking of shows, you posted an incredibly important document I think last year on what cismen need to do (and more importantly not do) if they wanna come along. Is it exhausting having to post things like this?

I think we’re cautious and wary of the fact that we can write these documents and even stick them to the walls, as we have, and still create a space that’s kind of problematic for some people. Clubs are dark, full of people who are drunk and at times our audiences have people in them who are really unable to comprehend the fact that they’re making other people uncomfortable or taking up way too much space. It’s tiring because it’s hard to know how to actually effectively fight the battle. Even now I’ve noticed some people who used to come to our shows who might not because it’s too anxiety inducing, in spite of our efforts.

That’s really fucked, and so difficult because it’s really hard to try change such an awful part of nightlife in cities. Like even with a concentrated effort from venues, artists and promotors, it’s still hard to get rid of. I think you made a really good call for allies to intervene and ensure everyone is safe though.

It would be great if it worked a bit better. I think there’s a problem here in Sydney also of there being few venues in which the security really understand the kinds of spaces we’re trying to create. Which is partly on promoters, but it would be lovely if there were spaces that were more autonomous from a mainstream club environment, like Red Rattler in Marrickville.

In many cases, the statutes requiring security actually creates a more oppressive atmosphere. I’m thinking places like Hudson Ballroom, the Imperial, places I don’t actually feel good entering.

Totally, what are security even there for if it’s not to keep everyone in their venue safe?

Certainly, and maybe I’m being unfair, maybe I have a kind of bias. but I’ve never felt more safe in a venue with security.

It’s nice, and this does happen, when an audience has enough collectivity that they can weed out shitty behaviour. That’s more compelling. But maybe also utopian. I suspect we’ve become less optimistic in the last year

Having security definitely seems to take away a sense of community. This idea that there is someone hired to outmuscle and control people in the club, it kind of reaffirms these systemic problems rather than address them.

I agree.

Ok, last question. After the release on Friday, what’s next for BV?

Jarred and Lavurn have been travelling overseas searching for new paths in their lives and enjoying the newness of things. Actually, to be more precise, Lavurn’s returned to his native Canada to hang out with his family, which I think is probably doing wonderful things for him. We’re going to come back together in the new year and work on new things, We’ve actually not written anything in 2016 at all, so you can imagine we’ll sound a bit different when we return. I’m excited.

Pre-order B2V over here

FeaturesLee Hannah