NPR recently sent out the call for musicians across the U.S. to record original music videos for the 2016 Tiny Desk Concert Contest. The contest is an offshoot of NPR’s popular Tiny Desk Concerts – intimate video performances recorded live at the desk of All Songs Considered. Gaelynn Lea, a violist from Duluth, MN, was the national winner.
Gordo Ji’Bang is Elsa Rae and David Houck of Sioux Falls. They’ve been performing since 2015.
SDPB: Where and how did Gordo Ji’Bang form?
GJ: We met by chance at our favorite little café-delicatessen, M.B. Haskett in Sioux Falls. We got onto the topic of music and quickly discovered that we were both musicians trying to find or start a new project. We decided a jam session was in order and that's when the pilot light was ignited. About a week later we had already written some music together and set a date for our first show as Gordo Ji’Bang.
SDPB: How do you describe your sound?
GJ: Ha! This is probably our least favorite question just because our tastes are very much across the board and that definitely reflects in our music. When we made our Bandcamp page, we had to answer this question as well. We think we described ourselves as "electric hip hop gloom pop funk,” which is mostly true. Elsa isn't as good as rapping as she thought she was, so we've pretty much abandoned the hip-hop vibe. Grungy gloom pop would be an accurate answer to your question.
SDPB: At what venues in South Dakota do you typically perform?
GJ: For the most part, we perform at Total Drag and Icon in Sioux Falls. We even played a benefit show at M.B. Haskett once!
SDPB: How do you find performing in South Dakota? What are the benefits? What are the challenges?
GJ: The growth of the music scene in Sioux Falls specifically seems exponential right now. It just keeps growing and growing. There seems to be a burning desire for more art. This has created a really cool community of people whom are extremely willing to offer their support. What's also amazing is the amount of younger talent that has appeared now that the scene is flourishing. Challenges, especially for young musicians, are that there is a lack of resources. We need more practice spaces, performance spaces, media coverage, etc.
SDPB: How did you find out about NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert?
GJ: Elsa has known about NPR Tiny Desk series for a while and suggested that we record a video and enter this year. It seemed like a great opportunity to gain some exposure whether we won the contest or not. Either way, we recorded a rad video and got to discover some rad musicians/bands in the process. It was rad!
SDPB: Why did you choose “Quarter Life Crisis” to enter into the Tiny Desk Concert? What were you hoping judges would hear?
GJ: It was a little difficult choosing which song to use honestly. We thought it was a pretty unique sounding song but choosing it for the video was really just a roll of the dice.
SDPB: Are any of your songs influenced by South Dakota? If so, how?
GJ: They ALL are in some way or another. We are about to release our full length album which we wrote together throughout the winter here in Sioux Falls. We think it comes close to the same feeling you get from the frigid cold, the battering prairie winds and the relief and warmth of the long awaited spring which is usually taken for granted. Is that corny?
SDPB: I think readers love to know the genesis of band/performer names. Can you tell us about the name Gordo Ji'Bang?
Absolutely! We love this story. Elsa worked at a Korean BBQ restaurant in Virginia for a while. Her coworkers used to call her something something "Ji'Bang." She thought it was a nickname given out of endearment. Asking the owner what it meant one day, he said, "Oh. That? That means ‘Fat Snowball.’” Nice, huh? We looked up the word "fat" in many languages, and the Spanish word “gordo” had a good ring to it. Gordo Ji'bang. It literally means "fat fat."
SDPB: Anything else you think it’s important for SDPB audiences to know about you, your music, or the music scene in South Dakota?
GJ: If you would like to see us perform in South Dakota before we go on our national tour in July, we will be performing later this year at The 605 Summer Classic concert series on June 24th. Also, our album will be released in early spring of 2016. Check in with us on Facebook to stay updated.
See Gordo Ji'Bang's Tiny Desk Concert here.