Enveloped in a tapestry of glimmering ruby currents, the harmonious spirit of Brass Box tugs at the heartstrings we all possess. It is an ominous ocean of spoken dreams, glassy reverberating strings and thumping percussive hips. With enchanting dream goth / shoegaze tracks, they take listeners on a journey through life, death and the darkness that swells beneath the surface. Duo, Ammo Bankoff and Neil Popkin originally met several years prior at an underground new wave / goth party in Los Angeles.
Interview Meikee Magnetic
Where were you born and where are you now?
We’re based in Los Angeles. Pablo and I were born in Los Angeles. Neil in Boston and Matt in Hawaii.
What was the defining moment when this project came to be?
Brass Box is a cumulation of old and new songs that I had been working on throughout the lives and deaths of previous bands. Most of those project had all been collaborative and mainly written with others. Brass Box are songs that I began to write on my own that I brought to Neil who then (and still) arranges and produces.
Are you a trio or are there other musicians involved?
We’re actually a 4 piece. Neil Popkin who plays guitar and produces/engineers our songs, Matt Bennett on guitar and Pablo Amador on Drums.
Who are you as artists?
As an artist I feel like a seeker, exploring every nook and cranny trying to understand myself, nature and the world.
Tell us the meaning of your song ‘DDM’:
DDM was inspired by the graphic novel Habibi written by Craig Thompson. A woman lost in despair lives on a ship in the middle of a mythical desert landscape. The theme of the book is quite dark, but beautiful all the same. My obsession with the ocean and bodies of water drove me to fall in love with the book. A boat sailing in a desolate land with no one in sight, void of water creates a sense of comfort in me.
Is there a big scene for dream pop artists in Los Angeles?
There has always been an element of dream pop in Los Angeles. Over the last few years it’s made itself more prominent. I hear more of it being integrated into other types of music which can be very intriguing.
If you could do the music score from a movie in the past, which would it be and why?
Chungking Express by Wong Kar Wai. It’s a gorgeous film. The colors alone are enough to stop you in your tracks and the way it was shot just floors me every time. Our music can be a bit moody at times and I think it could lend itself well. As a runner up I would choose an Aki Kaurismaki film, he’s another one of my favorite filmmakers.
What would you like to see more of?
I’d like to see more respect for the arts and artists. Art is a resource that influences society, it can be the fuel that creates discussion and change for the better. Artists are often treated like second class citizens, invariably questioned and looked down upon. If you’re lucky enough to “make it” only then are you put on a pedestal and deemed to be in a respectable field. The struggle of how to support yourself as an artist and keep a roof over your head while maintaining enough sanity to keep on creating can become daunting. I don’t think all artists want to be famous or in the public eye, but changing our attitude towards the arts may help artists thrive with it being a sustainable career choice.
What would you like to see less of?
I would like to see less art and music put out in a thoughtless manner. With social media and the internet we have more access to self release our art, which can feel very freeing and allow more creative control, but I think a lot of people are really terrible at editing what they decide to share. I understand for some this can be part of the process, but at times I find it convoluted and tend to graze over the menial. There is so much beautiful art to explore, but the clutter doesn’t do anyone justice. We should support each other, but I think we need more constructive criticism and the ability to edit down what we are doing instead of mindlessly throwing mundane work into the atmosphere. Neil and myself work together as a sort of a checks and balances. We trust each other to be critical of our choices artistically. We work very well together and I feel lucky to have found someone who respects my vision, but has no qualms to set me straight when needed.
When is your next gig?
We’re currently working on a full length and a few singles.
Feb 15 @ Union – 4067 W Pico Blvd, LA
March 5 @ The Echo – 1822 Sunset Blvd, LA
Other Future plans:
To keep on creating.
What does Dark Beauty mean to you?
To me, Dark Beauty, is the drive to explore and accept the darker sides of ourselves without apology. Exploration of self is evolution and a way to grow as an artist and as a person. You cannot have the light without the dark.