Bird­forms

Scout - - CONTENTS - In­ter­view by MARA SAN­TIL­LAN MIANO Photography by GABBY CAN­TERO

In the lo­cal indie scene, Nick Lazaro is mostly known as the front­man of Twin Lob­ster, an un­der­ground rock band with a quiet but loyal cult fol­low­ing. He grew up in San Fran­cisco and has lived here for al­most ten years, though he still talks with that dis­tinct West Coast ac­cent. He keeps a The guy’s mu­si­cal range is di­verse. He sings, plays gui­tar, makes beats, and men­tors young, bud­ding tal­ents like BP Valen­zuela and Oh, Flamingo.

Nick met Kara Chung in Wan­der­land, and luck­ily, she is just as tal­ented and man­ages to catch up with Nick’s en­ergy. She is si­mul­ta­ne­ously a pho­tog­ra­pher, a graphic designer, and an illustrator; and she can sing and play the pi­ano. The two formed Bird­forms— a stream of con­scious­ness in the form of catchy elec­tronic mu­sic, fu­eled by the free­dom and sense of com­fort har­nessed by two good friends.

They tell us what it’s like to be mul­ti­task­ing mu­si­cians—from the dis­ci­pline of pro­duc­ing good work to deal­ing with burnout. What is Bird­forms about? Nick: It’s about the idea of free­dom. Most of the mu­sic is about es­cap­ing from some­thing that was once hold­ing you back. Kara: Hold­ing you back mu­si­cally and in real life. All the songs I’ve writ­ten are based on a lot of things I went through last year. Bird­forms rep­re­sents our friend­ship. I share a lot with Nick, and Nick shares a lot of sto­ries with me. We trans­late that to­gether into mu­sic. Tell us a Bird­forms lyric that you are per­son­ally at­tached to. Kara: I’d say Win­dows be­cause I wrote it right af­ter grad and there was a point when there were a lot of un­cer­tain­ties. There’s a line that goes Writ­ing our maps as we go / where do we run from all of the mazes we chose? I found it re­ally cool be­cause I was able to cap­ture ev­ery­thing I felt in those two lines. Nick: Mine is to your king­dom. That was some­thing pretty cool that Kara wrote. It sym­bol­izes how pas­sion­ate some­body can be when they want to make a change, or some shit like that. What do you want to achieve both mu­si­cally and as in­di­vid­u­als? Nick: It’s al­ways about let­ting new ears lis­ten to new mu­sic—like birds spread­ing their wings across other lands in the sky—that was al­ways the goal. Kara: Be­fore Bird­forms, I wasn’t re­ally mak­ing to a lot of mu­sic. I was play­ing the pi­ano since I was a kid and I’d write my own songs, but I kind of got burned out for a while andI didn’t re­lease any­thing of my own for three years. I’m re­ally thank­ful I have Nick as my men­tor. Some­times you need your work through an­other per­son’s per­spec­tive be­fore you can think hey, it’s ac­tu­ally some­thing good, and it’s ac­tu­ally some­thing that peo­ple would ap­pre­ci­ate. How do you keep things go­ing when you’re out of fo­cus? Kara: We both give equal im­por­tance to this. We al­ways set aside time to prac­tice, no mat­ter how dif­fer­ent our sched­ules are. It’s in­ter­est­ing be­cause my song writ­ing process doesn’t al­ways hap­pen when I think, “Okay I have to write this song.” What I do is that I jot down lit­tle thoughts that I have dur­ing the day. Some­times I send them over to Nick, or some­times we do it to­gether and then we make into a tune. It’s pieces to­gether. Nick: In my other projects, I’m usu­ally the lead per­son. In this case, I’m ton­ing my­self down since it’s com­pletely col­lab­o­ra­tive. The cre­ative process be­comes a lit­tle bit more stim­u­lat­ing, en­tic­ing what­ever word you could come up that shows that it gets the ball rolling a lot more cre­atively than just hav­ing only one in­put. Does it pres­sure you as mu­si­cians to pro­duce mu­sic that peo­ple will like? Nick: What­ever you re­lease, it has to be ready. You should never half ass any­thing. I take a lot of pride in my pro­duc­tion. I make sure that the mu­si­cians I work with sound good, be­cause they put in the work. You have to put value in the thing that they put out. How do you deal when you crit­i­cize each other? Are you hon­est with each other when work­ing? Kara: Yeah, so hon­est! Su­per hon­est, it’s so funny. [Laughs] Nick: But it works it to­tally works! Kara: I al­ways tell him what verse I think doesn’t work. And then he’d put beats where there should have been lyrics, and I’d ask him, why’d you cut that line in half? And then he’d place some­thing in the sec­ond half where there were sup­posed to be lyrics, and it would be so much more in­ter­est­ing.

Nick: I think that’s why our mu­sic sounds unique. It’s some­thing we both had our own cre­ative in­put into, and to me it’s sim­ply beau­ti­ful mu­sic. I’m not ever again telling peo­ple to jump the fuck up, or you know, “De­stroy this shit!” It’s a great phase that I’m do­ing right now. It’s ac­tu­ally help­ing me ma­ture even more. What Kara has done for me is re­ally tell me to get rid of all this shit that re­ally doesn’t need to be there.

Kara: Even though I can come up with some­thing en­tirely on my own, it’s re­ally in­ter­est­ing to see some­thing that I made get trans­lated into some­thing that’s Nick’s style. I learned from Nick that it is also im­por­tant to con­sider how peo­ple feel about when they watch you live. Nick re­ally gives im­por­tance to how peo­ple are go­ing to re­act dur­ing your live sets. He wants to make con­nec­tions with peo­ple.

What ad­vice can you give peo­ple who are experiencing burnout be­cause they’re do­ing a lot of things at the same time, like you two? Kara:

I’d say just keep on work­ing. The only way to get out of your rut is to keep on pro­duc­ing work. Don’t put too much fo­cus on the out­put, but in­stead, fo­cus on the process. Fo­cus on your own growth. You don’t nec­es­sar­ily have to be the best. You just have to put out your best.

Nick: Even if I don’t reach a mil­lion peo­ple lis­ten­ing to my mu­sic, but I can reach out to that one per­son who can make mu­sic that can reach a mil­lion peo­ple, the feel­ing is enough for me. It’s not nec­es­sar­ily all about my­self, but mak­ing sure that I can get my mes­sage across to some­body else who can make a dif­fer­ence. In that way I did make a dif­fer­ence my­self.

Bird­forms duo Kara Chung and Nick Lazaro at Z Hos­tel

Nick’s gear “I love AKG HEAD­PHONES, es­pe­cially this model for pre­cise au­dio mix­ing and mon­i­tor­ing in the stu­dio.”

“The su­per clear screen of the SAM­SUNG GALAXY NOTE EDGE is in­tense!”

“My weapon for live elec­tronic sets is my AKAI APC 40 CON­TROLLER. Dig­i­tal clip launch­ing and sound ma­nip­u­la­tion at its best via Able­ton Live.”

“Th­ese SAU­CONY SNEAK­ERS. Black and or­ange—colors of the San Fran­cisco Gi­ants.”

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