Self-described as "Salinger on MDMA," Bikini's poppy sound, ethereal vocals and poetry-influenced lyrics evoke an affective quality that's heavy, but at the same time, irrefutably fun. However, while creating the EP RIPJDS, bandmates Nigel Diamond and Olivier Olivier weren't as collaborative as their music makes you believe (at least in the physical sense). Their musical process is somewhat seasonal, with Olivier writing poetry in the summer and using his writings to compose and record the melodies in the fall. Then, in the following spring, Diamond arranges and adds to the sequences and treatments, with no further imput from Oliver.
With cover art by New York City artist Nate Lowman, an album named after one of the most famous American authors of the 20th century, and a video, "ACheerlaeder," that borrows its visuals from Woody Allen's Celebrity, Bikini draws inspiration from the best that culture has to offer.
Check out LOOKOUT's recent interview with Bikini, a few days before they head to Montreal to open for Midnight Juggernauts at Le Belmont on November 27.
LOOKOUT: The "Salinger on MDMA" thing seems to have caught on, and not to mention the title of the EP, RIPJDS... What is it about Salinger that is so important to you and your music? Is the album a sort of tribute?
Bikini: It's not like we're trying to make the soundtrack to Franny and Zooey, it's just more of a thing that happened this year that tore us and a lot of our friends up. Now that he's gone, it's like there's not much to respect anymore, I guess that's a good thing and bad thing. I wouldn't say it's a tribute, but he has definitely influenced both Nigel and I to the point that I can't separate what's influence and what's originality.
In many ways, RIPJDS resists genre classifications. Michael Cranston from Impose Magazine felt the same way when describing "ACheerlaeder" earlier this year. On the blogosphere, Bikini has gotten a bunch of comparisons to the likes of Passion Pit and MGMT. As a musician, do genres, classifications and comparisons get frustrating?
No, people have to write something to describe it. We don't think about that much though. I feel like we're only good at one thing, one sound. I know that as time goes on and we're exposed to new resources, we'll change our sound, but we've been making this type of music since we were seventeen. It's hard to do anything else.
Were you friends first? Was it natural for you both to come together and make music?
We became friends once we both moved away to University. It was like we both grew up a lot and liked each other's grown-up self better than the adolescent ones. I remember the first song we really worked on was in Nigel's tiny room at 3772 St. Laurent. We made this song called "We Can Roll" and Nigel's roommate Justin played bass over our synth tracks - that was the first moment we realized we were going to do this.
On reading about Bikini's musical process, I was surprised to read that the finish record isn't sent back to Olivier. What are the benefits of making music that way?
I trust Nigel with my life.
What was it like to work with Nate Lowman? I read you were looking for something like his 2009 piece 'Beach Bums.' Was the final artwork everything you imagined?
Nate was amazing. I've always liked his work - he's kind of just basically the best there is right now in New York City. We were just happy he was into doing it, and the final painting he made was perfect. It was amazing to be able to have something that tied everything together for the record. Nate made these Xerox's of J.D. Salinger that we've used for the inside of the CD and posters. It's all kind of one thing, the work Nate did for us, so we've sort of used it all.