INTERVIEW: Rainbow Arabia
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Photo courtesy Matt Carter
Upon first listen, Rainbow Arabia may seem like imports from the far east, a multi-ethnic caravan that really plays the electro game. However the band actually resides within L.A.'s bastion of artistic tolerance known as Echo Park, and they were quickly plucked from obscurity for their danceable eclecticism. Their debut full-length album,Boys and Diamonds, expands upon their bedouin-like approach, but it doesn't require a community college course in world music to shake your ass to it. The husband/wife duo of Danny and Tiffany Preston recently performed at Soda Bar and spoke with SanDiego.com about their indiscriminate tastes in music, addressing their detractors and what it's like to write as a duo.
Was the recording process for Boys And Diamonds much different from your first two EP's?
Tiffany: It still was the same vibe.
Danny: The first one was done in two weeks. On this record we had time to think it out, and try to figure out what we we're going to do. But once we figured out kinda what we were going to do, we had to rush. A lot of the songs were written within the last couple weeks, last minute. I guess that's just how it goes.
Tiffany: These people think we worked for a year, but really we're messing around making beats and getting new sounds. And then literally the last couple months we put them together.
Is it very easy for you to write as a duo?
Danny: When you have a band you can say “Hey, lets go through this song, drummer play this, bass play that,” you have to write the whole song before you can get ideas for it.
Tiffany: If we want to change a part as we're working it's a little bit harder to change it, in the computer it takes longer then it would be with a band.
Is it harder for you to write with the computer rather than jam?
Tiffany: I think the jamming part is the really important part.
Danny: We like to jam. It's different every time we write, there is really not a formula.
How has the community been receptive to your music since you released your first EP?
Danny: Not great. Home is hard.
Tiffany: There is definitely a lot of bands and everyone knows each other. It's a different vibe when your on the road and people are definitely a lot more supportive of each other than in L.A.
Danny: I kind of realize everyone gets so much more enthusiastic and supportive everywhere but L.A. In L.A they're either more critical, or they're more picky.
What are some of things that inspired you to play fusion music?
Tiffany: Now we listen to a lot of electronic music in general, everything.
Danny: OMD has always been huge since I was a kid, but had a resurgence of it and that sound. Italo disco inspired me, I'm still inspired by that. There is a lot of world influence on a lot of those Italian disco records because there was a North African influence on stuff in the eighties. It's kind of like the eighties vibe, electronic, African, going back to a lot of those records. Even Reggae, it's a whole bunch of things.
Tiffany: Another thing, in interviews and reviews the haters think we only listen to the Sublime Frequencies label, but we really listen to so many other things.
Danny: I love Sublime Frequencies, but there is so much more than that.
How did you decide upon the vernacular for your vocals when you started the project?
Tiffany: The first time I really sang and recorded was on our EP, The Basta. So I've never really heard my voice before. For me it was just trying to sound like something that I could sound like that doesn't sound horrible. When I sang higher it was actually for some reason so much easier for me to sing high. It was easier for me to sing in key and sing higher, so I started doing that. I'm also a big fan of Siouxsie and the Banshees and stuff like that. Those things just started coming out, things I love.
Danny: Artists like Grace Jones and Nina Hagen, they experiment and try a sound, and that's all stuff that we love.
Tiffany: I've been getting comparisons to The Knife, Fever Ray. Which we like a lot.
Danny: We love them. But we're never trying for that.
How was your previous experience performing in San Diego?
Danny: We played with Gang Gang Dance once, in 2008. That was one of our first touring shows. We had never met them before, we didn't know much about them.
Tiffany: Granted we get compared to them a lot.
Danny: Which is weird. Then we saw them.
Tiffany: They're definitely amazing and we're huge fans.
Danny: We love them. But that's not how we started the band. Not at all.
Tiffany: It was like we were a big rip on them, I feel like we have similar influences probably and they're definitely more experimental than we are, and they have a band. They really inspired us for sure to become better musicians, and when we were on tour with them we needed to step up our game, because it was so inspiring. They just had a beautiful combination of band and electronics.
Boys And Diamonds is available on Kompakt Records.