Interview by Rachel Jablonski
Word-of-the-day: "scintilla." Do you know what it means? How about what it implies for a certain Illinois based band? I:scintilla, artist of the month for October 2004, leaves an impression that cannot be left unnoticed. The band is striking to me in some unexplainable way that is familiar, yet something I haven't experienced in awhile. So, I sought to find out from vocalist Brittany Bindrim and guitar/everything-and-the-kitchen-sink Jim Cookas how the The Approach might be playing with my subconscious.
Rachel: Tell us about the band. What are your backgrounds?
Jim: Everything began as a solo project in late 2002. I wrote and recorded many songs (only “Imitation” and “Fidelidad” made the cut for The Approach). I quickly learned two things: a) I could not be the lead singer of any band and 2) I needed more ears to aid in the writing and recording. Chad (bass) and Jason (guitar) soon joined on and helped to write and record more songs. We always wanted a female vocalist to complete the sound and we were fortunate enough to cross paths with Brittany in late 2003. She not only added a great voice to the music, but also phenomenal words.
Rachel: Brittany, have you run into any situations, positive or negative, involving your position as a female front at this point?
Brittany: I’ve had mostly positive experiences as a female front-woman thus far. Though, as a woman I find that one must get over the fact that sometimes people focus on appearance rather than musical involvement. However, that certainly does not only apply to females. It applies to all regardless of sex in some form.
Jim: Brittany’s talent has opened many doors for I:scintilla.
Rachel: I:scintilla is an interesting name. I had to look it up but I found “scintilla” to mean “a minute amount, an iota or a trace” and “a spark, a flash.” What does the name mean to the band and why did you choose it?
Jim: Bands like to say their names have deep meanings, but ours has shallow roots. I used to be subscribed to a word-of-the-day email list and one day scintilla arrived in my inbox. It connected with me, for some reason, and I checked to see if scintilla.com was available. It wasn’t, so I improvised.
Rachel: “Imitation” is a great song musically and lyrically, definitely my favorite track on the album. The song seems to perhaps pinpoint a certain person or entity through the use of the word “you.” Is there someone or something specific you had in mind when writing the lyrics to the song?
Brittany: The song is essentially about conformity and a loss of identity within our culture. When I was writing “Imitation,” I was writing about those who are blind to this idea yet completely embody it. I did have a few people in mind that I know personally when I was writing it, but it does not pertain to a specific person.
Rachel: What technology do you use in your musical programming? Do you have any special techniques you can or would like to share?
Jim: The Approach was completely recorded, mixed, and mastered in my home studio. We are a 21st Century Digital Band and used programs like Pro Tools, Reason, and ACID to produce our album.
Rachel: What is the song “Capsella Bursa Pastoris” about?
Jim: The title comes from a project I worked on at my day job. I had to read The Algorithmic Beauty of Plants and I stumbled across the captivating Latin nomenclature for a shepherd’s purse (a beautiful flowering plant classified as a weed).
Brittany: It is about how time can have ultimate control and outcome in a relationship. It also explores the notion that we must be aware that nothing is everlasting and you must recognize the importance and value of something when it’s with you.
Rachel: What brand of soap do you use?
Brittany: Bath and body works sweet pea.
Jim: I won’t disclose my brand of choice, but I will say that my sensitive skin does not allow me to lather up while bathing. I must constantly rinse.
Rachel: You have said, not in these exact words, that you have taken industrial music of the past and made it your own, something to that extent. How so? Who has been inspiring to you?
Jim: All four of us love the fathers of industrial music like Skinny Puppy, Nine Inch Nails, Ministry, etc. They definitely have an influence on the music we create, but we also have an affinity for other dark music like The Cure, A Perfect Circle, and Type O Negative. Jason, a very primary songwriter, brings his ambient influences like Delirium to the table as well. We try to mix everything into a cohesive bundle.
Rachel: What is the music scene like in Illinois? Where have you played? Do you have any upcoming shows? I’m in Cedar Rapids, IA right now, about 4 hours from Chicago so maybe I can catch you soon.
Jim: The music scene in Champaign-Urbana is strong. There are many great venues and there is a cool show to attend almost every night. We have toured to around the Midwest and have met many exceptional people and bands. We hope to expand our audience in the coming months.
Rachel: Complete this sentence. The boy…
Brittany: The boy’s fiery disposition and rigidity brought him to the curb, and he left this world in a taxi full of ignorance and cigarette smoke.
Rachel: What does "shootarooney" mean?
Brittany: Ah I’ve heard this used in different contexts before, but I don’t really know exactly what it means. One meaning has something to do with bustin’ caps, and another is with shooting up drugs or something, I think. It also sounds like it would be the name of some really cheesy old-fashioned western cartoon or puppet show, something like that.
Jim: I think it has something to do with assassinating a 60 Minutes commentator.
Rachel: How and when are you most creative?
Brittany: For me creativity is fluid. It is something otherworldly and it travels in wavelengths. Sometimes a thing from my environment sparks a surge of inspiration and I create from there, other times it’s purely sporadic and ethereal. I guess the best time for me is when I am alone and don’t have very many negative things going on in my life. Though pain can inspire some of the best works, it has for me.
Jim: Creativity, for me, usually comes at the worst moments. Many times I will be very inspired and I don’t have access to express (or remember ) my idea. When recording The Approach, everything was pure. We didn’t have to try and create many of the ideas on the album, they just appeared. That’s what I love about music.