People with Passion
Kalmia Traver, Rubblebucket
Interview January 12, 2011
Kalmia Traver, lead singer and sax player for Rubblebucket.
I am speaking via Skype with Kalmia Traver, lead singer and saxophone player for Rubblebucket, while she and her band drive I-80 from their hometown of Brooklyn to a gig in Cleveland. The band has a gig in Cleveland, will be in Grand Rapids the following night, and on Saturday, January 15, will be playing in Chicago at Double Door. In this discussion, Traver – who goes by Kal – discusses the origin of the music video for their song “Came Out of a Lady,” the ways in which fans describe their sound, their love of Wicker Park, and the elements that Rubblebucket brings to the musical table.
The idea basically started with David and I – Dave’s the drummer, and he also directed the video – and he had an idea to do this big head. From there, we worked together to design it. We ended up choosing this set that was totally fabric. We went and bought a lot of liner fabric from the garment district. I sewed the whole thing. Did the paint on the actual set piece. We had a makeup artist come and do makeup. And they did the animation in post production. But it all kind of came from those bright colors and triangles and crazy characters.
It seemed to fit right away with what I was hearing, but why the brightness to everything you guys do?
(Long pause) I think that’s just an intuitive thing. I don’t think it through that much. I just like a lot of bright colors. Maybe it’s jarring for some people, but it kind of just comes second nature to me.
This was our first . It was so much fun. We did it in one day. It was really hectic. I don’t know if you can tell, but we’re all in that little tent together, with our different body parts sticking out. We were positioned so precisely. It was like a pigpile in there. We had no personal space whatsoever for a couple hours, just trying to get all those shots. It was pretty hilarious, but also got kind of cranky by the end. (Smiles.) But yeah, we did the whole shoot in one day. It was really fun.
You say that you guys were all crammed into the tent, but I understand you guys are used to being cramped all together. You’re in the van all the time, and you were saying that the bright colors are intuitive – was it intuitive to you as a band to put yourself in a music video in which you’d all be, you know, huddled into this mass of fabric, all in together?
Yeah, I think that definitely says a lot about who we are, the fact that that was our idea of a really fun video shoot. (Laughs.) Yeah, I’d say ‘intuitive.’ That’s a good word.
I’ve just heard your music for the first time, this week. And I know in a lot of interviews people ask you to describe your sound. But let me ask you: for people who are hearing your music for the first time, such as myself, how are they describing your music to you?
The look on people’s faces usually says it all. It always makes me feel great when people come up to us and they’ve got a gigantic smile on their face that they can’t get off. That’s what I’m looking for. (to van) What are words people say after shows to describe us? (to Jack) They go, “Dude!” “Dope, dope, dope!” (to van) He said people always ask us to describe ourselves, but he wanted to know what other people say. (to Jack) Alex says people go “Fuck yeah!” but I don’t know if you can print that. (Laughs.)
Have you guys – so right now, you’re in your van, and you’re driving to Cleveland, and I look, and you’ve got a pretty packed –
Whoa. (Pause) Whoa, we just drove by an overturned truck. (Pause) Everything you’re saying is correct, and right as you were saying that, we drove by an overturned truck in the middle of two lanes. That was scary.
Yikes. Well be careful. (Laughter.) So, have you played Chicago before?
We played Chicago three or four times. Three times. This will be our fourth.
I’m really excited we’re playing at the Double Door, because I played there a few years ago with this other band John Brown’s Body, and we got to walk around. That neighborhood is so cool. I love all the thrift shops, and good record stores, and really good places to eat. That’s the one part of Chicago I’ve really explored, besides just driving around going places.
We haven’t been to Chicago in more than a year. So yeah, I’m really excited. The last show we played had a lot of great energy. That was at the Abbey Pub. And we played with the Heiruspecs. It was just like a really awesome show. I’m excited.
I think there’s a certain freedom and free-wheelingness that we’ve all got on the stage. We’ve developed our sound for a few years now in a pretty much purely live setting. So we’ve all got the fire and spontaneity that comes with that, and I think you can really hear it in our music. Especially now, after all this time. We’ve been able to balance the grid and the freedom really well. And I’m proud of that. We’re going for that, and I think that also can be really disarming to people. It allows them to feel really immersed in the music, but to be safe at the same time. So, yeah.