A back and forth with Vancouver's favourite dance trio

Basketball has finally arrived home in Vancouver from a year long stint in Europe and they bring with them a spirited collection of sounds and stories mapping their journey through at least 17 countries. Meeting with two of the three members the day after their first jam, Discorder caught up with David Rogria and Tome Jozic to talk about how their music has changed, their new influences and the poetics of losing their English.

Discorder: How has your music has changed since travelling? Is there still a huge dance aspect?

David Rogria: Yeah, definitely, it’s changed a lot because we were doing a tour, but we were travelling as well, so we didn’t bring our instruments with us and had to improvise a lot. Some of the improvisation created a whole new electronic backbone that is completely different from when we left.

Tome Jozic: We weren’t ever really that techno inspired. [While travelling] we were only able to utilize electronic equipment and make sketches on the go, so there is still that dance element a lot, but it’s more varied, definitely. We were able to illustrate our moods. … We were always in different situations and different venues and always plugging into sockets, different circuits—so that had an influence on us.

DR: There was no predetermination; it was all just random, completely. We really never had to be anywhere, other than where we chose to go and when.

Basketball, photo by Nicole Ondre
Basketball, photo by Nicole Ondre

D: How would you say audience participation affected your performances with the constant change in venue? Were there certain constants or was it also a different experience playing for people every time?

DR: There’s something interesting about what I heard the singer of the Monotonix say, about the reciprocation of being a performer [for]the audience: you always have to be a little bit crazier than the audience to get them to react in a crazy way. I don’t necessarily believe that, but it’s interesting. On the other hand, it was always very, very different, depending on the show, depending on the country, depending on who we were playing with.

TJ: We were trying to be as provocative as possible, as involving as possible. Whether it be lending out instruments, always trying to have cooperation between the audience and us on stage—very important, there has to be this equilibrium, so to speak. That’s what it is! That is the essence of what we try to make. It was always changing. It was a challenge.

D: Are there any major new influences in terms of genre or style? Or any artists that you met while you were traveling that had a big influence?

DR: It’s pretty hard to say. Between the three of us, Luka [Rogers] is not here, … but all three of us are pretty all over the map. A lot of the artists we like are from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Egypt, Morocco, that whole area. I’d say those countries especially have a big influence. Even places like Thailand or China. It’s not one defined thing. I find a lot of that music has so much more heart and passion behind their songs than a lot of Western music.

DR: And people we met … El Hijo de Cumbia … His music is amazing!

D: Are you anticipating any change in your performance? You’ve yet to play a show in Vancouver since you got back, and now that you have all your old gear and your jam space, what do you foresee happening here?

DR: We developed completely differently. I feel so much stronger. … The sounds that we have are just limitless. And being back home is great because we have this cacophony of sounds and it’s just kind of overwhelming!

TJ: It’s really exciting to come back and involve more people in the project. The best thing about travelling was just meeting people and having people perform with us, or the idea that they would lend their music to us to sample if they couldn’t come from North Africa or Bosnia. It’s that, on the first level, we have electronics and we have percussion and we have some minor effects that we can play with for a live show, but we were missing so many little pieces. And this is where the idea came from, that “How are we going to decorate our songs with our ideas?” and so we decided that involving and sampling people that we met, wherever we go, would be such a fantastic idea, that we could incorporate them into our songs.

DR: Like their spirit was there.

TJ: Yeah, and now that we’re back home, level two: we can continue to use the samples that we’ve collected, but incorporate more of the instruments that we want to use and have more people join us on stage and play more live instruments.

D: That’s really exciting, to think about having all of those samples with you … how would you describe that? Collage?

DR: Um, an ode. I feel that way.

D: What do you think about recording? How do you negotiate putting together a really defined track, as opposed to a live performance?

DR: At the moment, I don’t know. And right now the newest section of what we’ve done is unrecorded—unrecordable—at the moment.

TJ: It’s a mystery, I’m not sure how we’re even going to find room for all the things we want to do. There’s so many sounds.

DR: On some of our tracks we made flaws on purpose. Making imperfections, along with recording analogue instruments, or at least micing everything rather than just plugging everything in, is something that we would really like to get into.

TJ: There is an art to [mics] … I mean I could think of records that I would want it to sound like, but I don’t know how to do that, I don’t know who to ask. We have friends who record a lot of electronica, but in the next few months that’s our next project, figuring out how we’re going to do that. We’ve never recorded electronic aspects like that before.

DR: So excited about it!