Buke & Gase
“I’d say, on the whole, my heart governs me, Aron’s head is his master. Not to say that I’m unintelligent or that Aron is a cold stone, but when we perform, it’s hard to ignore the vast differences of our personalities. It’s equally problematic for us during the writing process, which is why we’ve relinquished our ego contriving intentions in favor of improvising. Through this, we easily find beauty in the muck of our self-centered confusion or disagreements. It’s the simplicity of being a necessary part of something bigger, or different, than oneself.”–Arone Dyer
Buke and Gase are none other than the experimental indie rock duo born from the earlier wave of DIY Brooklyn, New York bands. Comprised of multi-instrumentalists Aron Sanchez and Arone Dyer, the band’s name is derived from two experimental instruments created by bandmembers: the buke, played by Dyer, is something of an electrified six-string ukulele while the gass, played by Sanchez, is something of a cross between a guitar and bass (guitar-bass, g-ass, gass — get it?).
In 2009, Brassland co-founders Aaron & Bryce Dessner of The National (well, technically, their sister) discovered Buke & Gase when they played Sycamore, the basement venue down the street from The National’s home studio in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn. They were blown away by how much noise and rhythm was emerging from this two-piece band.
Buke and Gass made their recording debut in 2009 with +/-, a self-released seven-track mini-album, followed by their first full-length effort, Riposte, in 2010. The duo then released their first album under the newly refined moniker, General Dome, in 2013.
The intrigue dawns upon you before they play a single instrument, sitting down on stage isn’t typical of rock bands, but Buke & Gase is neither typical nor really a “rock band.” Watching Arone Dyer and Aron Sanchez perform feels more like “witnessing a divination, as two solemn figures huddle over strange objects, stomp their feet and chant with an intense and cathartic focus.” According to NPR. What has been labeled as their “small army of foot percussion,” isn’t the only creative oddities they compile in their work, these instruments are then filtered through various pedals, amplifiers, and homemade inventions to create a surprisingly complex sound. Dyer’s supermelodic vocal lines weave through the beautiful yet unwieldy musical matter, balancing light and dark, calamity and control. Their musical multi-tasking makes for live shows that are visually unexpected and sonically explosive, and I’m honored to delve into their creative headspace both on stage and in the studio. At the end of the article is a list of their Union Pool residency dates that were recently announced, tickets are on sale now.Your music makes use of self-made / friend-made instruments, and varying live instruments being simultaneously played to create your distinctly raw sound. It has inspired praise, curiosity, and a culture of appreciation amongst your fanbase, why go to this length? Would you be creating other oddities if it weren’t for music as the foundation?
The creation of our music would continue regardless of the crafts and gadgets we use. However, just as every note relates to its neighbors in succession, so do the personalities of each musician, the events of their day, their overall impression of world affairs to date, as well as the tools implemented. Musical or otherwise, we imbue our unique styles into every new focus.
I love the intellectual and emotional crossroad where your music meets, in one way my mind is doing overtime dissecting the many fruits of your creativity, and in another, it’s all swept easily away into feeling the sweeping power of it all. What governs you as writers? The head or the heart?
I’d say, on the whole, my heart governs me, Aron’s head is his master. Not to say that I’m unintelligent or that Aron is a cold stone, but when we perform, it’s hard to ignore the vast differences in our personalities. It’s equally problematic for us during the writing process, which is why we’ve relinquished our ego contriving intentions in favor of improvising. Through this, we easily find beauty in the muck of our self-centered confusion or disagreements. It’s the simplicity of being a necessary part of something bigger, or different, than oneself.
What is the closest you’ve been to an altered state through music? Can you illustrate your inner experience when you are at the height of either performing or creating?
From personal experience, I blank out at many of my performances. I know things are happening, I know I’m singing, playing, keeping time, responding to Aron or audience members, but it happens without fear – which is the single most blinding barrier to freedom. I’m highly self-conscious when speaking in front of groups of people (I turn bright red and giggle and for everyone’s sake please never ask me to make a speech) but if you let me perform, I simply cease giving a fuck and it floooows.
Looking back on General Dome, the album was recorded in a space/warehouse between railroad yards, the facility itself lent to the cavernous reverb, are there other sonic territories you’ve since utilizing in the recording process that you are proud of to have experimented with you can implore upon us?
Yes! I can’t say our current “studio” is at all inspiring (carpeted and potentially hazardous with no running water in the winter) so it’s not surprising it’s taken us 3 years to fall into a musical passion there. Not to be ignored is the additional fact that the town we live in has become more bourgeois as each day passes, and I’m considering moving back to NYC. (Anyone want to time-share? My place isn’t the quaint countryside home with a wood stove, but I just got a fake one and it’s fantastically deceiving.) HOWEVER, this strange juxtaposition has driven us to new territory within how we play, how we work and how we balance ourselves in it all. I am proud to say we are still evolving and learning what newnesses we have.
I keep hearing the place where Brasslands Records first heard you referred to as “the tiny basement,” I would love to know where it was and any vivid lasting memory from that night!
It was and is still called Sycamore and was and still is located in Ditmas Park, which was and still is a neighborhood chock-full of big-ass houses. Go there and emasculate yourself over the size of those porticos. I remember the basement venue being low, tight, candlelit, red velveted and perfectly intimate. I also remember the person who booked us there, who happened to be an undercover tastemaker. Jess Dessner enhanced our flavor. Little did we know she was about to launch us into our first of several mega-trips.
I really admire your commitment to pushing yourselves to the next thing, I know some artists never feel they are in the position to offer advice, but I’ll take anything you have to offer for the DIY hustlers of our beloved city, I’m sure they’d love to hear from two talented individuals that have a lengthy and vibrant history to show.
Less is More. (We’re working on it, too.)
You just performed at the last Hum series at Manhattan Inn (bummer they are closing) what’s the Hum series mean to you? And if you’re particularly connected to the venue, thoughts on the end of that era?
The Hum was a long-awaited easy-in to playing with Sheros. An open-minded audience makes the world spin round and a stage surrounded by them feels protected and magical. I had lost my voice, and ohhh how I died when I couldn’t squeak out the notes in my head… I’m only dreaming for another opportunity to fulfill that internal contract. It’s a damn shame it won’t be around. For me, it had begun to fill the void that was left after Zebulon went bust. After Glasslands went poof. After DBA disappeared. etc etc. There will be another, BUT WHERE?
Can we take a peek at what you’re working on currently?
We haven’t posted anything there in quite a while, however, our Soundcloud page is the best place to hear any snippets we’re willing to disclose leading up to the release of our long-awaited next goddamn album that everyone will forget about the following week. For the love of all that is on this Little Speck of a Planet. Put your bottom into the movement, or the movement into the bottom, but not just the little shit! Ugh, this is why Aron warns me not to talk a lot onstaaage…
You’ve explored and pushed the envelope with the “Buke and Gase sound,” (that seems to be ever-seeking to build upon itself,) you’ve obviously grown as people as much as New York has changed since 2000, I’d love to know after all you guys have accomplished in your journey as musicians, where you find yourself now with your new work?
New Boat, New Ocean.
With love and respect, Arone
Union Pool Residency Dates
|Date||City and Venue||Country|
|March 7, 2017||New York, NY, Union Pool||US|
|March 14, 2017||New York, NY, Union Pool||US|
|March 21, 2017||New York, NY, Union Pool||US|
|March 28, 2017||New York, NY, Union Pool||US|
Catch Buke And Gase Live March 7, 14, 21 & 28 – Brooklyn, NY @ Union Pool, featuring some fierce improv, familiar tunes, possibly new ones, with special guests and more.