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Interview: Rainbow Arabia

Interview: Rainbow Arabia Rainbow Arabia are husband and wife Danny and Tiffany Preston who combine dance pop with the obscure side of the world music spectrum. Think Nguzunguzu or Crystal Castles playing a DJ set in a scene from Disney’s Aladdin. The ‘Rainbow’ part of the band’s name speaks volumes about their kaleidoscopic sound. They were darlings of the eclectic Manimal Vinyl label and this year picked up by Kompakt for their new album Boys and Diamonds. Right after their recent Berlin concert we caught them backstage for a chat, while Danny was wrapping his gear and Tiffany got lost…

Electronic Beats: Your show was really, I mean really amazing. I always thought you were only two on stage, but now I also saw a drummer. What’s the deal?

Danny Preston: This is our second tour and we just got started with that. We already knew Butchy Fuego before very well, he produced our EP Kabukimono and he is also the drummer from Pit Er Pat, Boredoms or MIA. Before that we used drum machines on stage, now we only have the bass and some incidental sounds and percussions and filters coming from the machines. We wanted to try some new arrangements, but we only have a small budget available.

How do you like the gig today?
We got some credits over here already, it is just starting to grow. The audience tonight was very responsive.

Now you are on a German label, how does that feel?
For the moment we feel satisfied with the set up, plus we have a bit more money for the band.

How did the connection between California and Cologne appear?
Actually the contact just came via the internet. We have been working on some projects and within the work on a remix the relationship got tighter. Once we wanted to release our album, it didn’t seem to be the perfect match, but in another way it turned out to be very interesting.

Your latest album Boys And Diamonds is unmistakably a pop album but also one that comfortably fits in with Kompakt’s long-standing lineage of genre-refracting releases.
Definetely, and we took the chance. They always have been very supportive of us, going wherever we want to go. Helping us to get seen and stick with us through all developments. They would never force us to produce a techno track. And we very much appreciate this good relationship and much of confidence.

Your first album on Kompakt, which is just your second album, shows a lot of different variations, can you show us some of the influences?
We listened to a ot of different music, but most ideas came from experimenting with lots of eastern keyboards which were a big inspiration to me. Everything around the recording of the album happened in our basement, we were just playing around and created that sound.

Back to Cali. A lot of interesting music is coming out of California these days: I think of the hazed pop made by Puro Instinct or the work of the Brainfeeder imprint. Why’s that?
Honestly we think, California became such a creative space, because living in Echopark is really really cheap. You can get a decent house for a ridiculous price. Around ten years ago people started moving here, because the weather is nice, living is cheap and there are a lot of interesting venues to play in, so of course this attracted a lot of artists. It seems to be very similiar to the development in Brooklyn and other places. Artists want a place to live cheap. I mean, it is way cheaper than New York. But it is also very different from Chicago. People share, a lot of people are sharing the houses for example.

Is that true? You mean soon people will move to LA because Berlin isn’t longer the cheapest cool place in the wolrd? That would be something.
I mean, we really love Berlin. It would be cool to live here for maybe half a year or a year. Some close friends just moved here. And everybody knows, that more and more musicians are coming to Berlin.

Hmm, this sounds familiar.
Berlin or LA are just very relaxed cities. I don’t know how one can manage to live in London for example.

Strange, I always had the vision of LA as a huge city, where you cannot go from A to B without a car. Which is the opposite of relaxed, at least for me.
Definitely you need a car in LA, there is no other way to go. Of course Beverly Hills is really beautiful, but also super expensive, they are surrounded by the ghettos and Echopark belongs more to the rural area. It is actually kind of nice, plus people can still afford to buy a house. The problem in the ghettos were mostly the gang fights and those are over. Of course there are some places I wouldn’t walk alone at 3am, but this is adviceable in any other city as well. We did not have any problems up to now at all.

I remember a music video from you very well, it was shot in the desert with only Tiffy, and she was painted. Tell me something about that.
The video was shot for our first EP The Basta, which we recorded in three months and one month after some friends asked us to produce a music video with them, very short-termed and basically only for fun.

Tell me about your future? What is coming next?
Well, first we will visit the UK for a couple of weeks for touring, and afterwards we are going to take a little break after travelling so much. Then start writing again for a better, a second album.

Rainbow Arabia’s full-length debut called Boys & Diamonds is already released via Kompakt. Listen to a brand-new Rainbow Arabia mix below:

Published October 13, 2011.