BRAINSTORY: OUR SOULS ARE INFINITE
photography by FUNAKI
KM: To me it’s kinda one-dimensional. We want to remind people that psychedelic music means a transformative experience, not just dressing up like you’re from the 60s. Although I do like stuff like that and I do emulate those kind of things, but musically our focus is about how the music experience can change your life and be a spiritual experience.
That refers back to what we were talking about that stretched-out experience. That’s something you associate with going into a relaxed, open-mind state.
TM: That’s the atmosphere we want to create. People need it. We need it. My brother and I grew up with church music and that’s what the church music was about. I’m not part of the church or religion so much, but when I listen to jazz, I get that feeling. When I went back to church with my dad, it was just like jazz. It was Christian music but the musicians were all so dope.
KM: Yeah it was like, ‘This is not what I believe in per se, but right now, I’m feelin’ it!’
TM: Some shit was happening and it was beautiful.
EH: I think with psychedelics, jazz, gospel, Christianity, and Buddhism, and everything—the experience and feeling that they get from their practice—it’s just putting a different label on the same thing. I heard this guy talking about how all these different religions are digging one-foot-deep wells but they should all dig one big well—it would be way deeper. People focus on the well itself but what’s actually important is the water. Everyone wants the same thing. It’s a feeling of oneness, that we’re all connected.
TM: Returning to wherever we come from, going to the universe. I think—like, what you were talking about that stretched shit—it all comes from improvisation. You reach those states, like you see in folk music, rumba from Cuba, ceremonial music from that tradition, in North Africa you have the whirling dervishes and qawwali music … it all leaves room for improvisation. And the improvisation allows you to freely create on the spot so you are connecting to a deeper place inside of you.
You have to open yourself up to create.
TM: A lot of the time I feel like I’m not making it. Something is channeled through me. My atoms are trying to communicate some shit.
EH: Yeah—you’re just letting it come out. It’s funny. Sometimes we’ll be playing a song like that and we finish and it’s like … what? That was ten minutes?
KM: Time is skewed in those states. You feel like you’re traveling faster. Music involves time and when you’re in that state, time really doesn’t mean the same as when you’re just sitting there. Like you said: pace. It’s a whole different space in your brain.
EH: We were playing these gigs and going into these types of states, and people were kinda like sitting there staring at us and we would be like, ‘Oh no—they don’t like us.’ Then we talk to them later and they’re like, ‘That was fucking amazing!’
TM: We’d get so insecure about that.
EH: We were just so glad they were actually going with us.
You would hope they could give some kind of a sign.
EH: It’s mostly when we play for people that are seeing us for the first time.
TM: I remember looking into this big-ass crowd of a sold-out show. This one guy had his mouth open so wide. Everyone had these weird faces. And after we were done with the song everyone started screaming.
If they’re talking it means they don’t care. But if they’re drooling, it means they’re paying attention.
EH: I think it means Tony’s just a sexy man.
KM: Brainstreet Boys.
That should be your Halloween cover band. Jazzy psychedelic Backstreet—
EH: ‘Leave your baahdy.’
Tell me how your lyrics fit into this vision we’re talking about.
KM: With ‘Moth Love’ I’m trying to dispel illusions in my writing. It’s a theme for me. I don’t know why I’m writing it while I’m writing it. It comes and it sounds right. It’s a collage of words at first and I’m all in the details and then I come out and see the full picture and I get to know what it means. There was a basic beginning of intention. It was a summation of some of the personal love relationships I was in and how I was perceiving it and them perceiving it in this blind way that makes you miss that you have to love yourself. You’re trying to be absorbed in the love that you feel by giving your love to somebody and then it being reflected back, but then you’re not being able to have that in yourself—
KM: Exactly. So with that song I had the idea that I wanted to write about this concept. Basically the chorus: ‘No, no, no, you’re not loving me / you see / it’s my love for you that sets your own self-love free … ’ You know what I’m saying? I’m talking to myself but also explaining it to people. It’s like everyone talking to themselves. It’s ‘moth love’ because moths go to the light—they’re obsessed with it, and then they die. I have positive connotations about death, but in this song, the dying part is not good. It’s loss-of-potential kind of death, the death of what can really happen when you do love yourself fully. To me that comes from a place where everything in life is an illusion. And this was a common illusion that I felt I was participating in. And I thought no—I gotta not depend on love being this thing I get from another person, but being with myself and doing things I enjoy on my own.
So self-reflection, notions of love for others and for the self—there’s another song that gave me vibes about love. And not the ‘I have a crush on you’ type of love.
TM: That’s probably ‘Dreams.’ The difference between this album and the one we made before is that the one we made before is more of a reflection of the outside, someone looking out into the world. This one is more introspective. We’re looking inside of ourselves—it’s about loving yourself. In ‘Dreams,’ it’s about when you love someone really deeply, no matter if you’re not with them—they’re inside of you, and you always love them forever. A little part of you always does. I’ll have a dream once a year about a certain person that I’ve connected to in a deep way, and I always wondered if that’s my own personal experience or if other people have that?
The boy I loved when I was ten years old always pops up in my dreams.
KM: Yeah—it’s like your lovers turn into archetypes, symbolic things tied to the emotions that you felt, and they come in your dreams when those feelings are involved. It’s very strange.
TM: ‘Love is so strange, it doesn’t change, it’s the faces that change.’ Talking about when you connect with somebody so deep you feel like GOD … there’s some God shit going on. Regardless of who you connect to, if it’s true deep love, you’re going to be connected to them forever. I just always wondered whether other people experienced that.
If everyone is experiencing these universal things, it’s hard to comprehend how someone can be capable of horrible things. How can someone—
KM: —do something terrible, if we are all the same.
Today someone exploded a bomb at an Ariana Grande concert. What the fuck is that? This person dreams, this person loves … how could anyone?
KM: I use that frame of thinking to still feel empathy for someone who has done something so heinous. Everyone does horrible shit in their life. They hurt each other. It’s not equal to putting a bomb on strangers. But everyone has a flawed quality to them.
EH: People are depressed and full of anger and hate and somebody comes along and only points out the negative of other people and then creates this mind frame in which you don’t look at the humanity of other people—or at what we have in common.
KM: I think that kind of shit says a lot about our society and what people are going through. People need help. It’s tricky to identify who exactly.
TM: Shit’s been popping off all over the world. Terrorism is everywhere.
Let’s tie this back to the role that music plays. If religion involves music, then let’s think about what role music has in shaping people’s ideals.
KM: Definitely. Music is mantras. You like a song, you listen to it a lot. That’s a mantra. Whatever is in that song—the meaning of the words in that song—it becomes part of your subconscious. Music, man … that’s the original magic of life, making sounds. I always think about the first people who were like, ‘Oh!’ Tones, arranging sounds … that magic is in our DNA. It might sound cliché—‘music is the universal language’—but it is! Everybody feels that magic. I trip out. This guitar I’m playing, it’s an old instrument, but it’s been reinvented many times. And there might be so many things you can do with a computer, but people still get a fucking kick out of a guy going di-gi-di-gi-dee on a guitar. It’s really primal to me. And it really shows the power that music has once you put meanings and your heart and soul into lyrics. I’m trying to help people get liberated—to look at their emotions and things they might not look at a lot, and I’m ornamenting it with a song so it’s an easier thing to digest. Your love, your humanity … it’s a hard thing to be in touch with on a day-to-day basis.
BRAINSTORY WITH ETHIO CALI ON THURS., JULY 20, AT THE LEVITT PAVILION LOS ANGELES, W. 6TH ST. AND S. PARK VIEW, MACARTHUR PARK. 7:30 PM / FREE / ALL AGES. LEVITTLOSANGELES.ORG. RSVP HERE! AND WITH SLEATER-KINNEY, WEEN AND MORE AT JOSH FISCHEL’S MUSIC TASTES GOOD FESTIVAL, SEPT. 30-OCT. 1, MARINA GREEN PARK, LONG BEACH. MORE INFO HERE! BRAINSTORY’S SELF-TITLED EP IS OUT NOW ON EL RELLENO. VISIT BRAINSTORY AT BRAINSTORYMUSIC.COM.