The Uncluded, the duo of Aesop Rock’s Ian Bavitz and Kimya Dawson, took its name from a book by artist/writer Michael Bernard Loggins. As written in Imaginationally, unclude is a verb and means “keeping things you don’t appreciate out of your life.” We chatted with Bavitz and Dawson over email about what they unclude, their debut album Hokey Fright, and music videos. The Uncluded play with Hamell on Trial at Neumos this Tuesday (7/30).
What’s something that you unclude? Ian Bavitz: The older I get I uncluded anything negative that I can live without. If something or someone is only bringing negative energy into my life, it’s gone.
Kimya Dawson: I try to unclude people, things, and situations that make me feel anxious and generally unbalanced. Like sugar. And lately, clutter.
How would you suggest a person unclude something? IB: For me, it’s about [not] overcomplicating it. Cut the strings. Obviously that’s easier said than done, but I find it’s better to try it that way than to leave a million loose ends dragging around for years. KD: Yup, totally easier said than done but you have to let go.
How was working on a full-length album together? IB: It was wonderful and easy. Everything came together extremely smoothly, and the songs were a blast to write. We both are “lyric people” so we have the same starting point as far as what we do and where we’re going. Once we realized our approaches weren’t all that different, it all started falling into place. KD: I loved it. I loved making this album. I love playing these songs live. It’s been amazing.
What’s your favorite lyric or verse on Hokey Fright that the other member wrote? IB: So many. I love Kimya’s part on “Alligator.” It’s funny and awesome and well written and delivered impeccably. It really makes a beautiful group of lyrics out of a funny time in one’s life where you’re learning about human bodies and sex and all the uncomfortable stuff. Shit is fun. I also love what she does on “Jambi Café” a whole lot. KD: His part on “Scissorhands” is powerful and brave and honest. I love it. And of course his whole part on “TV on 10” is insane. If I had to pick a line though, maybe “truthfully it’s easier to say ‘oh, hell instead of hello’” from “Teleprompters” or “This one looks like raver pants” from “Alligator.” Really, how can I pick? He is a word master.
Has writing and recording these songs helped you with the losses you’ve experienced in recent years? IB: Absolutely. That definitely was a bit of a (morbid) starting point for us, but it really served as a bit of group therapy to write these songs and have someone else to write them with. KD: Totally. I can never keep grief in. It just builds if you do, and the hurt will wear you down.
Where do you get inspiration for video treatments? IB: We’ve done homemade videos with cheap cameras, and we’ve had people present treatments. The ones we do ourselves are very spur-of-the-moment. We have an idea, we execute it that day, and I try to edit it in a few days. For the ones in which we sought out treatments, we were looking for anything that goes with what we were presenting. We already [had] a bit of a rough-around-the-edges vibe in our music and homemade videos, so we needed to maintain the vibe while letting someone else take the reins. You gotta find the right people and have an idea that resonates with everyone. KD: He’s really the mastermind behind the homemade ones. For “Delicate Cycle” it was incredible just brainstorming all of these beautiful people and animals we know and figuring out how to get them all together in a way that told a bunch of stories that mesh together into one story. Rob Shaw did “Aquarium” and “Organs.” He kicked ass on those.
Do you recall any major mishaps during the shoots? IB: I broke my rib later in the day of the “Earthquake” video toying around on that skateboard. A lot of the “Delicate Cycle” video seemed to come together as we were doing it. You just have an idea and hope it works out. Sometimes it doesn’t and then you gotta put Band-Aids on the messed up parts. KD: There was a minute there during the “Aquarium” shoot where the octopus seemed like she was clamming up but she came through in the end.
Are either of you working on other projects? IB: Working on a Hail Mary Mallon record (my group with Rob Sonic and DJ Big Wiz) and started toying with some new solo material. KD: Nope. Just being Mama for awhile. Trying to clean my house.