by Emily Hofstetter, Silicon Salley Inc., September 14, 2000
NAMES: Elaine Walker, Liz Lysinger, Hae Young Kim
EDUCATIONS: Elaine - Bachelors in Music Synthesis 1991, Berklee College of Music. Currently working on a Masters in Music Technology at NYU. Liz - Bachelors in Music Synthesis and Film Scoring 1999, Berklee College of Music. Currently working on recovering from the last 4 years. Hae Young - Bachelors in Music Production Engineering and Music Synthesis 1999, Berklee College of Music
COMPUTERS OF CHOICE: Elaine - Always was a Macintosh freak, but have been enjoying Liz's PC for the past year. Liz - Always was a PC freak, by default, but have been enjoying Macintoshes for the last 5 years. Leaning towards a fully cross-platform studio, better than what we are already doing. Hae Young - Definitely Mac. PC is too complicated for me.
EQUIPMENT LIST: Kurzweil K2000, Ensoniq ESQM, Korg Wavestation, Kawai K5000, Yamaha TX81Z, Moog Sonic 6, Roland A-30, Yamaha SY-22
ASTROLOGICAL SIGNS: Elaine is a Gemini but doesn’t believe that stuff, Liz is a Pisces, Hae Young is a Cancer (that's why I'm so emotional!)
FAV. GIGGING LOCATIONS: Elaine - The Rathskellar and VenusDeMilo in Boston. Both are closed now. Liz - The Berklee Performance Center, Boston, MA
PREFERED MORNING BEVERAGE: Elaine - Liz's coffee (it gets your rear in gear). Liz - Coffee (a.k.a. starter fluid/I love the bean). Hae Young - Coffee! But I'm forcing myself to drink just water.
FAVORITE BREAKFAST CEREAL: Elaine - Uh, Liz, what's that cereal called that I eat all the time? Liz - Elaine eats Post Great Grains. I don't eat breakfast that often, so if I did, it would be Kellog's Rice Krispie Treats Cereal. Hae Young - Frosted Flakes
1. In one sentence, briefly describe your music.
Hae Young: It's weird and emotional.
Elaine: I get pretty emotional about space and technology and that may seem weird.
2. How did the 3 of you meet and then come to form the band ZIA?
ZIA: Wrong order. Elaine formed the band in 1992 and met Liz and Hae Young in the late 90's. Except for our former member, Gia, this is the only time it has been an all girl line up, and we hope to keep it this way!
3. Music has always taken the position of political statement and cultural expression, Elaine is acting president of the New York City chapter of the National Space Society, does your music reflect the NSS' desire for change and advancement for space exploration?
Elaine: A lot of the music I write is space related. Space Man, Space 'Zine, Buchla Rise, Big Bang, and a lot of the songs off of 'ZIAv1.5' as well. SHEM has multimedia on it that is a history of American space exploration, and shares some of my views about why we should venture out into space. I released two CDs that are fundraisers for pro-space organizations - "Frontier Creatures" profits go to the National Space Society, and "MARS" profits go to the Mars Society. They also get distributed through their respective chapters who keep the profits for themselves. I also have been singing solo at quite a few pro-space conferences put on by various pro-space organizations across the country and Canada. This is new for them, to have live music at their banquets and whatnot, and I am so happy they are allowing me to bring my music into the heart of the pro-space movement. They always give me a vending table to sell our CD's and I I'll sell about 30 or so, including ZIA CD's. It's like we've found our own private little niche. I'm usually introduced as "Elaine Walker of ZIA". Although I am president of a space organization, I'm introduced according to my band name. I sang some Mars songs at our last NSS chapter meeting, and will be singing the same songs at the Albany NY chapter meeting in October. Some of the Mars songs were inspired by the recent Mars Arctic Research Station (see http://www.marssociety.org ). Pascal Lee, the crew leader, asked me to write a song about Devon Island, the island in the Canadian high arctic where they set up the 'Mars base', and he played my 'To Mars!' song on the island for his crew for inspiration. I may be going to the arctic next summer there to film a music video to help promote the project. In every way I can I'd like to make people aware that Mars is not just a planet, but it is an entire world, right next door, with a 24 hour day/night cycle, and every mineral, metal and chemical we would ever need to support new societies. We could compare the danger level, and travel time, to early history of crossing the oceans. Mars is just far enough away where it is difficult to communicate to Earth, due to the time delay, so societies there would be truly independent, and a grand experiment. It will be for people with moxy...certainly not for the weak at heart, at least at first. But someday it will be a world, built by their brave ancestors, for everyone who wants to go. So, I think not only does the music reflect this way of thinking, but I USE the music as a tool to spread these ideas and to support the pro-space movement.
4. Let's talk about your equipment, Hae Young and Liz trigger circuit boards, your drums are electronic - is this display of instruments not only used to play this style of music, but also a statement and expression of who you all are and what you believe in?
Elaine: When I began ZIA, my philosophy was to avoid using any standard musical instruments and this went as far as excluding any that would imply a western 12 tone tuning. MIDI keyboards were banished from ZIA performances because the keys on the keyboard implied a standard 12 tone tuning. I used microtonal scales for all of the music at the time. Therefore guitars were also banished. Our shows were also a statement of how we can use technology, and have total control over it, to produce something that is inherently good. I have also wanted to portray how deeply human I feel technology is, since it is truly an extension of ourselves. Eventually I softened my strict criteria for instruments to allow people who are important to the band to play the instrument of their choice. Liz is a piano player through and through and I could not deny her the use of a keyboard for fear of losing her altogether into the deep void of band members lost. We even use 12 tone tunings for a lot of the music now. That started when I let Gia play her flute and we needed songs that she could actually play to in a 12 tone tuning. So, I've stopped being QUITE so snobby about the whole thing, but the message is still there.
5. What is a Zia performance like and if there is one thing you want your audience to walk away with, what is it?
Liz: A ZIA performance is usually a high energy event with enough bass to rattle your spine. The one thing I would want people to walk away with, would be the feeling like they enjoyed their evening. It is the best when someone comes up and says, "Ya know what? This was so much fun!"
Elaine: I want them to walk away saying, "That was damned entertaining!" I would like them to feel that they have just seen a performance that somehow fits into the normal rock seen but which definitely pushes the boundaries of the norm.
6. If money didn't matter, what would be your dream instrument set-up?
Liz: new speakers, mic stands, a Mac G5, a laptop
Hae Young: More memory to the K2000 so that we can load more samples. And more out board processors. For example, Lexicon PCM80 (that's my favorite verb unit. I can make all kinds of crazy sound with it!) and a real time vocoder.......
Elaine: We don't ask for much...new DrumKat stands, mic stands, a patch bay that's not rusty, more audio card inputs and outputs...more outboard Lexicon units (call me old fashioned), and a laptop. Oh, and a 24 track Pro Tools system. Yeah, that's what I want. And a copy of Studio Vision Pro that doesn't take 10 minutes to open, and for Cycling74 to hurry up and release the PC version of MAX so that I don't have to rewrite my MAX patch in PD. Thanks in advance.
7. Do you plan to implement Internet technology into your performances, or recordings?
Liz and Elaine simultaneously: We are too scared to use a computer in a live show to begin with.
Liz: For instance, we only use an antiquated dinosaur of a MIDI patch bay that seems to do us just fine.
Elaine: The old stuff is way more robust and you don't need more than 16 MIDI channels for a live show, anyway! A lot of electronic bands get carried away with technology live, but really, the audience doesn't know or care. Now, if you could actually pull off a live internet video feed during a show, it would be effective, but we don't have any plans for such a thing. One thing that would be cool though... In the original ZIA lineup, Lisa Sirois used her laptop to play sounds from a Director (or Hypercard?) movie. She would just click on pictures and make sounds, and the audience could see it on a TV. I could easily see the same type of thing, but being played from a web site. But it couldn't be crucial to the show, since it would surely crash now and then.
Hae Young: Not for live performance. I'm considering making an interactive music video using Beatnik. I just worked on an MTV webeo remix. I think ZIA's music will be great for an interactive music video. Beatnik is great for interactive music on the web.
8. When did you all get online and say to yourself "Hey, we need to get a website?"
Hae Young: I don't know, before I joined Zia.
Liz: I think Elaine has always had a website. Ever since she was born, I tell you!
Hae Young: When we were going to be on Gig Records, we had a page under Gig record's site. We had some difficulty with updating and revising info on the site.
Liz: We wanted to maintain it ourselves and we weren't allowed to have the password.
Hae Young: So, when Bob got involved with Zia, we decided to have our own website.
Liz: Bob Gourley designed a whole new site for us, which is the one that we use today. We can maintain it ourselves, for the most part, and it is pretty user friendly.
Elaine: Bob and I go way back. He only recently became our manager. Back in the early 90's he programmed a hypercard stack multimedia program for ZIA that went along with the "ZIAv1.5" release. He made it fit on a low-density floppy disk because back then a lot of people still had black and white Mac +'s and whatnot. It was black and white and you had to have Hypercard to run it. We still have it available actually, but nowadays we have to provide Hypercard because no one has that anymore. Then Bob made an updated version of it a while later in color that fit on two high density floppies. Wow! So it's really neat that we're still friends and he can host our website. His digizine, Chaos Control, underwent a similar transition - an email list, a Hypercard stack, and now a website. We've come a long way!
9. How important has your Website been in getting the word out about your music and ideas? Who did your website?
Liz: Bob Gourley designed the website. It has been an excellent way to promote ourselves in between shows. We end up getting some awfully nice feedback from people who stop by to view the site. People have made other ZIA websites in the past and you can still find traces of them, although the music doesn't play anymore.
Elaine: We'll be adding more stuff soon as well, such as individual pages for each band member that features our own solo music, and more about us as individuals.
10. What do you use your Website for? Tell us what we can find there (ie; music, photos, videos, bulletin boards, etc)
Liz: We use the website to promote us and also to sell our material. The site includes a bio page, a basic equipment flow chart of our live setup, videos, pictures, a message board, oodles of music, a whole universe devoted to the advancement of humans in space, a place to sign up for the mailing list, a shows page, and a merchandise page.
Hae Young: We also have a links for other bands that are related to Zia.
11. As independent artists, what do you think about both the Napster and MP3.com verdicts, and how might it effect the chances of getting your music further "out there"?
Hae Young: MP3 and Napster are great way to get exposed to listeners, especially independent artists. If listeners truly like the music, they won't be satisfied with merely listening on a web. They will try to get a copy.
Elaine: In grad school, in the Music Tech department at NYU, we've had extensive discussions about this, and the widespread verdict amongst these technologically-aware musicians, is that the MP3 stuff helps more than hurts, and that it will all work itself out. The musicians that usually try to fight this sort of thing are the technology-illiterate musicians; those that don't understand, or that fear technology. All I know is that I called our potential new record label that we spoke to for over two years and turned them down...hung up the phone and repeated to myself, "Elaine, what have you just done?" and then three days later we released "Big Bang!" on MP3.com and the world was rosy again. It's very empowering. They even track sales and listening for you so it's very organized and easy to use. And they send checks in the mail. It's certainly not hurting us.
12. Give us a list of some of your favorite websites, be it music or information.
Hae Young: *Machine Listening Group (http://www.sound.media.mit.edu/projects,)-mit audio engineering research group. *Other Side Computing (http://www.eshop.macsales.com,)-Often times I find good deals for mac products. *Bong + Dern (http://www.bongdern.com,)-not because I work there..... There are some interesting projects and helpful info in music and multi media for web. *KCRW 89.9FM (http://www.kcrw.org,)-Santamonica community college radio station site. They air really good electronic/experimental music. Listeners can listen to online live broadcasting.
Elaine: Zecharia Sitchin's site http://www.sitchin.com, The Extropian Institute http://www.extropy.org, where you can read the Extropian Principles http://www.extropy.org/extprn3.htm, and there's a slew of other cool links on our site http://www.ziaspace.com, in the LINKS section and the SPACE INFO section. Also, please see my own "Natl. Space Society NYC chapter" site http://www.ziaspace.com/nssnyc. And don't forget to visit Bob's digizine http://www.chaoscontrol.com!
13. Where can people download or purchase your music?
Elaine: All of the music can be purchased from our site in the music section which includes Real Audio for each of the songs (only parts of songs). Our newest full length CD "Big Bang!" and our 1994 release "ZIA v1.5" are also available from MP3.com, and we get paid when people listen to the MP3 files there, but of course we make more if you buy "Big Bang!" straight through us. SHEM, our 1996 release on Fifth Colvmn ended up being sold off into the bargain bin void of the e-music vendors (when they went out of business) and can be found everywhere from Amazon.com to emusic, imusic, etc. We don't make royalties from SHEM, but please buy it anyway because it has cool space multimedia on it. We're still fighting to get some copies for ourselves because I still own the rights to it. The other CD's which are more of my solo thing, "Frontier Creature" and "MARS" are available through our website and raise money for non-profit pro-space societies.
14. what does music sound like in space? Can we hear it on earth?
Elaine: We all know that you cannot hear music in a vacuum. However, if you are wearing a space suit, which you would be anyway, you could have headphones. On Mars, which has an extremely thin atmosphere, the music would be so low in pitch that you probably wouldn't hear it. Then again, you could be wearing a helmet and be wearing headphones. Or, of course, you could listen to music inside your habitat, which would be pressurized, so you could just listen to your Martian surround sound system.
Liz: You could hear it on Earth if you turn on the radio.
15. favorite technology to listen to music on the web?
Elaine: Real Audio??? MP3's are good but I don't actively go seeking out music on the web so I rarely listen to MP3's. I do want to get one or two of those MP3 watches when they come out in the states so I can play our backing tracks from my wrist.
Liz: Real Audio? It sucks, but everybody's got it. Quick Time isn't so bad.
Hae Young: MP3 seems to have good fidelity since it uses perceptual encoding technology. However MP3 is commonly used for downloadable music. For streaming audio, real player seems to be the best considering it's efficiency and the fidelity.
16. what do you think of webcasts and the plan to put webcams in venues to stream live shows? Will the ARTISTS ever be the ones who benefit from this? How?
Elaine: Well sure, the bands will get extended exposure. One might worry that part of the audience - at least the 'web-savvy' part - will stay home and watch from their living rooms instead of coming out to the show, but that's all part of life. Things change and evolve when new technologies become hip, but it all tends to work itself out over time. Come to think of it, people will want to go so that they can be seen on TV and say "I was there!"
Liz: Well, since they have already been successfully doing this sort of thing in the academic world via underground wires and pipes for networks, this idea doesn't seem bad at all.
Elaine: They have to open up high volume network pipes to do this. They clear out a network passageway for a certain period of time so there is more bandwidth to be used. It's the kind of thing that just won't happen every day until more high-bandwidth internet pipes become available.
Liz: There is already web radio, which is a good way to get exposure. I think it is no different than you turning on CBS and watching a live Sting performance and the network gets money from sponsors to show the thing.
Hae Young: Yes, it'll be beneficial for an exposure. However, many webcasting shows don't seem to concern about the quality of the audio. Streaming audio requires heavy signal compression. Often times, I find inconsistent level of live webcasting music. Especially, The unique sound itself is the charm of electronic music. I don't think streaming audio can project the accurate sonic images of electronic sound. Considering that, I don't think webcasting is the best way to deliver electronic music.
17. who are your influences?
Hae Young: Many classical composers specially Bach, Steve Reich, Orb, Massive Attack, and many other great experimental/electronic bands.
Elaine: Disco and 80's music and early electronic industrial.
Liz: Rachmaninoff, Gershwin, Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Liszt, Beethoven, Rolling Stones, Orb and Orbital.
18. speaking of early influences, I saw lori anderson at the gym yesterday - she does lots of yoga. What do you do to stay "in tune?"
Elaine: Think really hard and try to burn calories? Run to class? That's about it. Oh, you mean mentally? I pet my kitty, Baloney, and look at the space pictures on my wall. That keeps me in balance.
Liz: Who has time to go to the gym? I do an awful lot of walking and do lots of ab crunches during data transfers. As far as mentally, I do digital audio editing to make me feel better. To me, it is a zenlike thing, where I become one with the waveform. It is such a perfect place in my mind that unless I was performing, it couldn't get any better than that. I also read tech manuals. This doesn't help my psyche one bit, but it sure does help me get ahead in this world.
Elaine: Liz, you're so silly.
Hae Young: I just stay away from people.
Elaine: Haha. As much as I love humanity and spend my waking hours worrying about the future of our species, when too many people bother me, demand my time, or scold me for things they think I should or shouldn't have done, I become a hermit for days at a time and simply ignore the rest of the world. The three of us all seem to enjoy our solitude.
19. "Big Bang" is a really sexy song. It has some of the best things I loved about David Bowie's Scary Monsters record. Would you like to be produced by Eno, Fripp, Adrian Belew, Bowie....the usual suspects? And - how important is it for female musicians to keep their sensuality in their music? How difficult is that to do with electronic music? Is it difficult being female musicians without acoustic guitars who don't waste time singing about self-sacrifice and the quest for true love 24/7?
Hae Young: Come on, this is 21st century! This is my answer to your 2nd question.
Elaine: One of the things we've been searching for is an excellent producer. For the most part, I have produced most of our music, with the exception of half of "Big Bang!", which was produced by members of Amazing Meet Project, formerly Love in Reverse. If any of the above mentioned called us up, we would love for them to produce us. I always thought Ric Ocasek of the Cars or Cevin Key of Skinny Puppy would be great producers for us too. I always wanted to do a duet with Billy Idol and co-produce that, but that's another story. Speaking of sensuality... to me, electronic music is just as human and just as sensual as any other kind of music. In fact, I think it is more human, because you have to create everything about it from scratch. The musician creates their own sounds, decides what tuning to play in, and has total control over the music. And humans built the machines that make the sounds. Everything about electronic music is human, and I just do what comes naturally. I am not sure how sensual people portray me as. Haha, and no, it is not difficult being female musicians without acoustic guitars who don't waste time singing about self-sacrifice and the quest for true love 24/7. I think I had a horrible nightmare about that once.
Liz: I think it would be a wonderful learning experience to be produced by such industry legends. I don't really think on the plains of women being sensual. You either have passion, or you don't. I am not a touchy feely person, nor have I ever been "girly," so I am not quite sure what you mean by that. I never knew that you couldn't be sensual in electronic music. As far as the whiny manic depressive girl with the acoustic guitar that is usually 10 times bigger than she is, and wears ratty clothes to look hip, someone told me to run far, far, away from them.
20. Finally, as part of both a cultural and an Industrial revolution - how does ZIA plan to exploit the "Big Bang" of the Internet and technology in the future?
Liz and Elaine: As it is, we exploit it in a few ways. We have a website with lots of music and videos, our CDs are sold through MP3 and Amazon and every other possible music vendor online. We have a basic network going on, with our fans and fellow bands and everyone ends up talking to each other at some point.
Elaine: Also, the internet allows me to tie together my different passions that inspired songs on "Big Bang!"...things like space exploration and Extropianism and Zecharia Sitchin's research.