Bikini interview

Bikini band photo


Fluid, wave-like progressions and lyrics that feel as far off and distant as the moments they recall.

interview: Isabel Legate
images: courtesy of Bikini

If you have ever taken the time to reflect on your youth, those years riddled with angst, heartbreak and recklessness you will understand the melancholic feeling that rises within one's esophagus with the realization that they have passed. If you haven't, I suggest listening to Bikini.

The music of the North American five piece fronted by Olivier Olivier has the capacity to ignite long forgotten memories with precision and lucidity. Self described as JD Salinger on MDMA the band lives up to this expectation with fluid, wave like progressions and lyrics that feel as far off and distant as the moments they recall.

During this year's South by South West music festival I had a chance to spend some time with what I affectionately – never mind secretly- called the "Bikini Boys" and it became quite clear early on that they don't really like each other. Perhaps it was the certain standoffish attitude they had towards one another or the post-show brawl that resulted in a broken finger and a trip to the ER or maybe, just maybe, it was the fact they went out and said it themselves, "We don't get along so well".

Taking these factors into consideration it should be easy to understand why I consider Bikini "North American" rather than based out of one central location. The group itself cannot be isolated to a single state or even a single country. They all - minus Kiáran and James, housemates who serve quite simply as moderators - live in completely different cities. The fact that the five are spread out between LA, New York, Montreal and Toronto makes the music making process vastly more complex and exciting. This separation is a very unique quality for any band to have - let alone a band that convincingly masks any interior conflict by producing seamless tracks.

"We don't know any other way" agreed the band's two primary members Olivier Olivier and Nigel Diamond when asked why they choose to work separately. Olivier composes and writes lyrics in the spring of each year later sending them to Diamond who creates structure and fullness with synthesized melodies and beats. This choice to work in isolation from one another reflects a certain level of maturity that many bands fail to understand the necessity for until it is too late. They understand the dissonance that exists within their relationships and cope with this in the only way they know possible – maintaining several thousands of miles away from each other.

Bikini's future plans include releasing an LP as well as a music video that should hit the world wide web in the next few weeks. Before dispersing to their different corners of the continent to begin work on these endeavors I had a chance to ask the band a few brief questions.

The radiation emitted from the island is, in a sense, what we're trying to capture with our music.

What inspires you?

Girls, boys, hand jobs, blow jobs, fights, sex, violence.

What are you currently listening to?

Anything coming out of the UK, Slam Dunk, Twin Shadow, Bummer High.

Where did the name Bikini come from?

Nigel had this obsession with the Island Bikini Atoll in Micronesia. It was a nuclear testing site in the 50s that got blown up. The radiation emitted from the island is, in a sense, what we're trying to capture with our music.

How would you describe one of your live shows to someone who's never been to one of them?

It depends how many members of the band show up. There are 5 of us now, all friends from the same hometown but we live in NYC, Toronto, LA and Northern British Columbia.

Would you say that your music is inspired by any certain imagery?

Vogue covers for the last 50 years.

What is the relationship between the sound and the words?

One and same for us. The voice is just another instrument to be altered and played with.

Bikini band photo