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Interview with Davey Pierce of Yip Decever, talks about smooth punk

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Having caught up with Davey Pierce, half of the duo that is Yip Deceiver, who was on his way from Denver to Salt Lake City on their 14-date tour that includes a 3-day stop in Austin, Texas for the 2014 SXSW Music Festival, he graciously made time to answer a few questions and provide an update on Yip Deceiver.

Examiner: How did the show go in Denver?

Davey Pierce: “Things went really, really well in Denver. There were a lot of people there and we had a good time.”

E: Your debut, Medallius, is catchy, fun, and infectious. You’ve discussed your songs as starting out differently than what they eventually become. What was your mindset going into writing and recording the album?

DP: “We never sat down and said, all right, it’s time to record an album. We work on ideas as they come along. You know, we’ll start with a bass line or keyboard line or vocal melody, or whatever it is --- and just build on it, build on it, build on it, until it’s basically about to collapse or we hate it. And then we (laughting) start over and do it again. The album itself took a long time record because we were writing it while we were recording it.”

E: With so many musical genres and sub-genres used to describe today’s music, yours seems to be a cross-sections of sounds -- electrofunk, synth-pop, indie R&B, and the self-described, smooth punk. Where did smooth punk come from?

DP: “That was Dobby’s (Nicholas Dobbratz) idea --- he said it one day and (laughing) I actually really liked that. We do kinda think of it like that. It's the same messages and everything but with a different aesthetic, with a little bit softer edges. You know, we’re not as angsty and angry about things.”

E: After numerous listens to Medallius, the indie R&B label seems to fit well too because it has strong grooves.

DP: “We pride ourselves on our grooves.”

E: Those genre descriptions would cover a lot of artists but who specifically are your influences?

DP: “Ah man, you know there are so many of them. We’re very heavy influenced by R&B. I said Luther Vandross a hundreds of times in interviews because I really am very heavy influenced by Luther Vandross, and Marcus Miller, but I also love Elvis Costello and Jawbreaker, and older funk stuff. All across the board, just a lot of everything. Basically, if it’s good, I enjoy it. And if I find something in their that touches something with me, it becomes one of my influences."

E: Since your channeling an 80s sound that is reminiscent of Thomas Dolby and New Order, are these bands you liked and listened to or just the nature of the music?

DP: Well, you know it might be a little bit of both, especially Thomas Dolby. If you’re into synthesizers and you don’t like Thomas Dolby then you’re not really into synthesizers, are you? It’s hard to divorce a lot of that stuff from what you do. But I don’t think we consciously think of Duran, Duran, Wang Chung or Thomas Dolby, while we’re actually writing, but we grew up with it. It’s engrained in us, their sensibility and how they did things. It’s in there whether you want it to be or not a lot of the times.

E: What’s the appeal of the 1980s techno sound in writing and creating your music?

DP: “Well, you know, a lot of it’s a process. We like how you're forced to operate with these kinds of things. It’s not a non-linear style of looking at a computer screen, and it tells you what you did and where it is, you can just click all around it and do all this stuff. As you write, it’s a forward motion and therefore, I feel like things develop organically.

I think a lot of it is pretty much limitations for me. Like when I have unlimited choices and options, you know, I’ll have found a spot and be catatonic in a way (laughing), because I just can’t decide.”

E: Did you use Moog synthesizers on your recording?

DP: “Yeah, a lot of the bass lines were done on a Moog, a Little Phatty, actually. We do like the Moog stuff. It’s one of those things that even Moog is getting so complicated now it takes me forever to figure out. Dobby got one of their newer ones, and I sat down with it for awhile and I just couldn’t figure it out. It’s like, hold this button and turn the thing and it does this thing. I just like knobs, you know.”

E: On the song, Tops Part II, you've said it started out as an homage to Kashmir (Led Zeppelin). Is there a Tops Part II/Kashmir remix?

DP: “I have the original instrumental version of it. There were a couple of synthesizers we usually use live but we can’t really do it anymore. I thought maybe I should put this over this thing and see what happens, kind of thing. But I figured it was one those things where I just let it be in its own little fantasy world because, (laughing) it might actually turn out to be terrible.”

We channeled it into a Teddy Riley/New Jack Swing kind of thing. Basically, I didn’t really like how it was turning out, the original direction, and I needed something to make it as far away from that as possible. I think it worked.”

E: How did you come up with the name “Yip Deceiver”?

DP: “Well, it’s not a good story (somewhat embarrassed laughter). Generally nowadays, we say it doesn’t really mean anything. But it was a failed anagram for my name, actually. One of one my friends and I were in a bar, coming up with anagrams for our names and left out an ‘a’ and put in an extra ‘i’, and at the same time we needed a band name, and that sorta stuck. There was talk of changing it forever. In truly lazy musician sort of form, it was at the very bottom of the list of things I had to do, so it stuck forever. It’s funny because after people figure out what the hell I’m saying, they repeat it back to me two or three different wrong times, but then they get it and never forget it. In one way, it’s hard to get people to understand what it is, but then after they think about it’ll be there, probably forever, you know.”

E: You have a one short instrumental song on the album, Theme, with a very layered, dramatic sound. What’s the story behind that?

DP: “It was originally a whole song with lyrics but I didn’t really enjoy how it was turning out, but I really liked the synth patch. That main polyphonic synth patch that’s on there I built, and couldn’t save it and for some reason could never get back to it. But I really wanted to do something with it, which is why it became just a little snippet in the middle of the record. Originally, I did another version of it with a totally different feel that was kind of more like New Jack Swing that was called Dobby’s Theme which is why it is called Theme, (laughing again) but it got nixed at the last second. It was going to open the record but it would have been really weird. Kinda glad it didn’t make it on there.

E: Do you tour with other band members?

DP: No, were touring as a two-piece. We keep it as easy and fun as possible. Yeah, every person you add takes about a week off of your life for each tour. We try to keep it as low on numbers as possible as a band. It’s just the two of us always. We’ve toyed with the idea of adding a drummer but it’s probably not going to happen anytime soon.

E: You’re quoted as saying about Yip Deceiver, "It's music for a weird night of random adventure.", and who doesn’t like weird nights of random adventure?

DP: Yeah, who doesn’t like random adventure? Hopefully that will speak to somebody.

E: What can fans expect when they come to see you?

It’s going to be fun. We don’t like to get up there and just play songs. It’s kinda high energy and we like to get people involved in it. Not in the way where it gets freaky (laughing) or over the top, but if you're not dancing, you might as well sit.

E: And for the uninitiated, what do you want them to know?

DP: Hey, we just want them to listen to it (laughing), and let them figure it out on their own. People are smart.

Be sure to keep up with bands & musicians playing the Portland Music Scene by clicking on the Subscribe tab at the top of the page. Thank you for your support!

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