Updated: 08/26/00

Dynamo Hum is a local band from California who play some of the coolest alternative music your mind will ever get the chance to trip out to, baby! Signed to the Media Kitchen label, we’ve been threatening to interview these guys (and gal) for ages. Well, the threat finally paid off…

Highwire Daze: Introduce yourself and tell me what you do in Dynamo Hum.

Scotto: I'm Scotto. I play guitar. I also write lyrics.

HD: Where is the band based out of and how long have you all been playing?

Scotto: We've been playing together for about five years or so. We once called ourselves an Orange County band because that's where most of us lived, but things have changed. We're now all over the place, from Los Angeles to Venice Beach to Costa Mesa. And to make matters even more complicated, our mailing address is in Calabasas but we rehearse in the South Bay area. Go figure!

HD: Describe the music of Dynamo Hum to someone who has never heard it before.

Scotto: We set lyric poetry by layering seemingly dissimilar instrument lines (often in asymmetrical meters) based on repetitive dissonant chord progressions, random noise, and tuneful vocal melodies, all this organized into either strophic or through-composed forms. In other words, we're like Sonic Youth but with more pop-like vocals.

HD: Where did you get the ideas for some of the lyrics on the Fallopian release?

Scotto: My lyrics are personal and internal. By personal I don't mean they’re private; on the contrary, I love talking about them. But my lyrics concern specific feelings, thoughts, and experiences in my life. People sometimes say my lyrics are very abstract, that it's hard to figure out what I’m saying. But I don't want to give the listener a superficial blow-by-blow description of events. I'm looking for what’s inside, symbols and imagery that generate experience. In other words, I don’t want to say, "I walked by her house." This bores me. I'd rather say, "Her house walked by me." Bad writing, I guess, the passive voice, but I like it. It means something to me. If you look closely you'll see a linear story in almost everything I write. For example, the song "fallopian" is about my wife's deceased mother and the person who abandoned her. "Letters to everyone" is a self-portrait filled with self-contempt. And "Scott's latest statement 'bout love" is about, well . . . love, and the object of my desire.

HD: What are some of your musical and non-musical influences?

Scotto: Musically, I worship the works of Monteverdi, Bach, Beethoven, and Debussy. I can't imagine my life without them. In terms of more contemporary music, I love, absolutely love, Sonic Youth. They are artists who paint with blinding colors. I also love Elvis Costello, REM, Peter Gabriel, the Talking Heads, the Beatles, and my long-dead guitar teacher, Manny, who first taught me what art and beauty is all about (our song "Mexican tunes" is about Manny). My non-musical influences are so varied, from trees to Lake Superior, from a huge meteor I once saw as a kid to praying mantises, from Petrarch and Ginsberg to Kerouac and Vonnegut, from Gauguin and Van Gogh to all the silly professors who stand as a monument to a big mistake I almost made.

HD: What is the best and worst thing about the local music scene here in Southern California?

Scotto: The best thing about the local music scene is Nels Cline; the worst thing is when Nels is out of town.

HD: What do you think makes Dynamo Hum stand apart from other bands?

Scotto: Everything. I honestly can't think of another local band similar to us. It seems to me that local rock can be separated into two camps: bands that beg the audience to like them (they're dressed so cool and their songs are designed to sound like everyone else), and bands that beg the audience to hate them (nihilistic anti-art, they can't play their instruments, they never ever smile, and they turn their backs to the audience). We're corny enough, arrogant enough, and self-conscious enough to try to communicate something meaningful. We believe in the glory of art and beauty. But our sound is uniquely our own and that’s the way it's going to remain.

HD: What can one expect from a live Dynamo Hum show?

Scotto: They'll probably first wonder, "What the hell is this?" Then they’ll notice Jen, our lead singer. She's amazingly brilliant and beautiful and sensual, with a voice both sweet and acidic, all in the same bite. Then they'll probably see Dijon, drummer and colorist, so cute with a goatee and black paints; and Goffredo, composer in residence, who makes the bass sing like a violin (and all the girls seem to like); and lead guitarist Michele with his Buddha smile and arsenal of noise; and cool scary Martino who's got the best posture you’ve ever seen; and then there’s me . . . forget about me. After the music begins, I hope they notice six friends who love each other deeply, floating on clouds of sweet euphony.

HD: If there was one thing you'd like a listener to get out of hearing your music, what would it be?

Scotto: I’d like them to fall in love with sound.

HD: What are the future plans for Dynamo Hum?

Scotto: We’re still promoting the last CD, fallopian, with frequent gigs and touring -- for example, we just got back from San Diego, and in couple weeks we’re going to the Bay Area and Las Vegas. We’ve also written a bunch of new songs that we’re really excited about, several of which we’ve been playing at our recent live shows and the response has been very cool. Next month we’re going back into the studio to start work on another full-length CD. It seems that with the first CD (Dynamo Hum), as much as I still like some of the songs on it, we were newborns learning how to speak; with the second CD (fallopian) we were toddlers testing the limits of our sandy playground and sometimes finding really cool rocks and stuff throw around; but with the next CD we’re going to be tearing around the neighborhood on shiny red bicycles. Watch out!

HD: Out of all the members of Dynamo Hum, which person would...Probably do real well on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

Scotto: Michele. I sometimes call him Mr. Wizard.

HD: Wind up on the show Blind Date?

Scotto: Jen, of course. This seems to be a metaphor, the map of her heart.

HD: Buy the latest Britney Spears CD?

Scotto: Buy? They can borrow it from my daughter.

HD: Go on a blind date with Britney Spears?

Scotto: Me. I think Britney is totally hot, in a sick old man kind of way.

Be sure to check out Dynamo Hum the next time they meander into your part of the world…


THE DYNAMO HUM HOME PAGE: All the news on Dynamo Hum!
MAELSTROM MUSIC: The publicity company for Dynamo Hum! Lots of cool bands on this page!
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