Polka Dot Dot and Ben Kamen are coming to Holland Headquarters in Reno, NV on March 25th, 2008!!

Polka Dot Dot and Ben Kamen are coming to Holland Headquarters in Reno, NV on March 25th, 2008!!

Polka Dot Dot is Onyx of Olympia and Miss Spindleheart (aka Colleen). Onyx plays the harp and the ukulele. Colleen plays the guitar and the banjo. They use a lot of hand percussion, bells, jickerigs and stomping. They serenade each other a lot in their songs; they call their music “magic music”…magic spelled with a “que” at the end.
Ben Kamen plays the guitar and he plays the fool. Someone once told him that he plays “Olympia folk dream music.” Colleen says that Ben’s music is something that she might find in the bottom of a tea cup.

Penny: Are both Ben Kamen and Polka Dot Dot entirely acoustic? Is there any sort of intentionality in being acoustic?
Ben: I actually play an arch top guitar, a hollow electric guitar and then I have a back up band who aren’t going on this tour called the ‘Hot New Ring Tones’ that are very electric.
Onyx: Our band started like very shoestring…
Colleen: lots of busking, being really universal and being able to play any show and since we were traveling we had to be able to fit into any bill.
Onyx: yeah, hand and feet percussion, stompin’ on pieces of wood…it makes it able for us to play in the woods and in trees. (to Colleen) Remember when we played in that tree in Portland?
Colleen: both of us make electronic music; we definitely don’t shy away from electronic music. This project just especially lends itself to the human tactile experience.
Onyx: Yeah, there is something about it that’s like tapping into the old fashioned kind of magic…like primitive magic. Like the kind of music where it’s just people sitting around a campfire. I think of pre-Christian, Celtic Ireland a lot.
Ben: I also make electronic music which tends to be more spirit, intellectual music…it’s like real cosmic. The songs that I perform live tend to embody more of the human in spirituality, the imperfect, fumbly human. In a computer if you want something to be imperfect you have to intentionally program something to be imperfect.

Penny: Tell me about your special powers.
Ben: I have these special sunglasses that I put on that allow me complete freedom. They make me kind of invisible in this way that allows me to control the near proximity to my being, if that makes sense. It expands my spirit potential by making me disappear.
Onyx: I feel like secret powers are completely responsible for why we are a band.
Colleen: I’m really good at getting completely lost in my day dreams and dreaming of potential realities and then manifesting them but my brain makes them manifest even better than I ever think they can be.
Onyx: I think that I have the same magic power as Colleen, we come together well in that way. That’s why we have so much fun together. We say, “lets make this thing happen…how are we gonna do it? I don’t know” and then all of a sudden you’re in a car driving down the coast of New Zealand and then there are seals and we stop and play with seals.
Ben: I’m really excited about this tour (everyone laughs)
Onyx: my power is to make something amazing out of nothing or channel my creative energy and other people’s creative energy and just make it go…kpchsooo!!
Colleen: I feel like I’m like a prism and I can take all of these different energies and focus them in one beam of light.
Onyx: you’re such a hippie…earth mama (lots of laughter)

Penny: Being that ya’all have some of the most amazingly beautiful voices that I have heard in a long time, I am wondering how you would greet your vocal chords and what would they be wearing?
Colleen: I would jump from my hands to my feet and my hands to my feet and maybe go in circles around them during that. My vocal chords would be changing shapes because they are liquid metal in a zoot suit.
Onyx: My vocals are stylishly cautious and I think they would be wearing a hoop skirt for that reason. I would hug them as a thank you for getting me out of lots of different awkward situations with college professors, lovers, and authority.
Ben: I think that my vocal chords would be wearing blue jeans like I’m wearing and they would be coming in from a dusty desert or from the rain and they would be really tired and I would sit them down and give them some peppermint tea.

Penny: Do ya’all feel like you channel particular characters or voices in your music…whether those of are of an older generational period or an ethnic lineage or …whatever?
Onyx: Yes, definitely. When I went to Evergreen I studied old style Irish Gaelic singing. It’s like storytelling in a way. My ancestors are Irish too and I’ve always been really obsessed with Irish music and even though that isn’t the kind of music that I’m making right now I feel like when I’m performing…(she pauses)
Penny: Like your cells are rupturing and it’s all encoded into your DNA?
Onyx: Yeah! Or just that I’m tapping into something that is so much greater than myself. Especially with the medieval songs like rounds and what not. I think wow, people sang this song 500 years ago and here I am singing it again.
Colleen: When I first came to Evergreen I was mostly obsessed with Southern Appalachian music, mostly like eastern Kentucky and Virginia. I definitely feel like what I’m trying to accomplish is this long tradition of creating a space where in all people are made equal on this plane. Where we share music together, creating your voice in a way that vibrates in people’s chest and is a physical thing. It’s a spiritual thing of like sharing music and also sharing the physical vibrations of each others voices.
Ben Kamen: I don’t feel like I channel any sort of cultural pasts but I when I play live I try to channel the same feeling that I had when I was writing the song. The whole writing process is very much about channeling an emotion that I had when I started writing the song. So, it’s dark and raining outside and the middle of winter in Olympia and I try to write around the pure emotion that is there. Sometimes that means changing lyrics when I perform them so that I can continue to channel the emotions that are there. I’m sure that my music taps into a cultural thing but not in a traditional way of….
Penny: I think that The Hot New Ring Tones taps into something pretty cultural… (we laugh)
Ben Kamen: yeah, the hot new ring tones are amazing. They weren’t really my idea…I was playing a show downtown and in the middle of one of my songs my friends came up and just started playing with me and it was really amazing and made it a bit lighter. I then asked them to start playing with me and they picked the name.

Penny: Being that ya’all are visiting and playing your first Reno, NV show…what is the first thing that you think of when you think of Reno?
Ben: I think of Elvis impersonators marrying people.
Colleen: I think of people wearing really nice polyester suits a driving old Pontiacs and eating fast food while driving down main strips
Onyx: I’ve been to Reno and I had a lot of fun there and so when I think of being in Reno I think of being kicked out of a casino because I forgot my id when I was there. I didn’t really know where to go for fun when I was there in the ways that locals might go to have a good time.

Penny: What is something that you guys know now that you wish you knew when you were 15?
Ben: I think that being an artist is about doing things, rather than working on things and then giving up. Even if you don’t like what you’re working on, it’s better to follow through. I still remind myself of that today.
Onyx: I wish that at 15 I had known that anybody who claims to be an expert on anything or appears to know their shit is to some degree just kind of faking it. Like, what is really a professional musician? What is a record label? And maybe that is just the kind of culture that I come from, DIY. If you can’t get on a record label then start one, you know? Just proclaim that you are a musician. I think that we are too shy to proclaim those things. I kind of had to get outside validation before I realized that I am a musician.
Colleen: I feel that way too and I wish that I would have known that it was okay to write really weird songs. Growing up on Whidbey Island I wrote so many songs that I sung to myself on a bus looking out a window…I wrote songs that my grandma would like because she was my audience. I was such a weirdo already that I did everything that I could to appear to be normal.

Penny: If you could do anything that you wanted to without the risk of failure, what would that be?
Colleen: I would build a rocket ship and/or jump from my roof onto a trampoline into a swimming pool.
Onyx: I would like to a really old Victorian house in Olympia that has lots of space in the basement and start some kind of collective living/musical situation. Kind of like what I have now only more so that I could leave for a really long time on tour and then have something stable to come back to. I believe that the best projects are the ones that you can start and then leave and then come back to
Ben: I think that I am already doing everything that I really want to do. I think that I just want to be a pure channel for creativity…if I could just do that always without failing that would be an ideal reality.Colleen: When I went to Amelia the palm reader she told me that I can not fuck up, like, I can’t fail. She said that I don’t have a direct purpose here. I just have these lessons that I have to learn and they can happen at any point in time. She also told me that I’m going to save the world with my music…she didn’t even know that I am a musician.

Come check out these two very amazing bands playing with Reno’s very own “The Frontmen” at Holland Headquarters (30 Cheney St.) on March 25th, 2008