Odonis Odonis, NO POP, and Place: My Interview with Dean Tzenos

Who Are Odonis Odonis?

"No Pop" (Apple)

"No Pop" (Apple)

Odonis Odonis are a three piece band from Canada who has, over the course of (at least) five albums, continued to make very different and unique music.

The individual members of Odonis Odonis are Dean Tzenos, Denholm Whale, and Jarod Gibson. In their music, I hear everything from Joy Division through Gary Numan to the Cure to Skinny Puppy and Controlled Bleeding.

They are adherents of a movement called "No Pop" and the new album refers directly to that movement which they define as being unified around a music that has no expiration date or which is limited by geographic or regional boundaries. 

Their new album will be released on October 20th on Felte records. What follows is my email interview with Dean Tzenos (Vocals, Synth).

Odonis Odonis, No Pop, And Place

JBH: I have read the No Pop Manifesto from Lonely Vagabond but what do pop and no pop mean to you? What appeals to you about the idea of being part of <musical> movement politics?

DT: What appeals to us as a band was the idea of creating art for art sake without influence from industry pressures. I think a lot of people are in it for fame, money or following along with some kind of popular trend or hype. We hit a point as a band that has been basically been eating shit in trenches and it's been a humbling and freeing experience. We followed what sounded good and what felt right for us right now and didn't let any outside voices influence the process. We have always been a weird band and a really hard one to follow but even still when we were playing the "game" there was always a voice in the back of mind saying this isn't poppy enough or this won't sell records etc. We are beyond all of that now and it's been the best thing to happen to us creatively. #nopop represents something bigger then us and allowed us to break new ground as band entering a new stage of our careers. We are in it for the long haul, not for immediate gratification. We focus on creativity and innovation first but there is a price you pay for following a path less traveled. 

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JBH: Influences (obligatory, I hear everything from Joy Division through Controlled Bleeding through Gary Numan and Skinny Puppy)? If influences beg the question, in a sense, apologies.

DT: We have always worn our influences on our sleeves especially on earlier records. I love all the artist you mentioned and I can list plenty more but I can tell you know where we are coming from. There was a lot of nostalgia and references in the earlier material. The new record is focused on finding out who we are as a band at this point in our lives. The influences are unavoidable but we aren't chasing that right now. I see this record as an experimental exercise to allow us to become better artists in the future. If we didn't get there on this one I feel we've open the door to something new and that's what keeps us motivated.   

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JBH: We have been living in a long cultural moment where the culturally dominant metaphor has been one of embracing inevitable dystopia (Terminator to Walking Dead).  

You suggested that the new album is literally about the No Pop movement, but is there a bridge between the transhumanism of Post Plague and the music now? Do you have a musical vision of the future? 

DT: With Post Plague, we were focused on where we thought technology would lead us in the not so distant future. Things have changed so much in my life time it's insane but in last 5 years, I've seen it speed up 10 fold. Basically, since smart phones began driving us forward we've seen massive changes in human interaction and how we socialize and really we are only at the very beginning of it. As someone who follows tech and works with it, I can see there is so much more coming and we haven't even understood the effects of what is currently happening. 

No pop is mostly an influence in concept but not in content. It is not literally about No Pop as a movement but as a creative idea.  We wanted to focus less on the future and more about what is happening at this exact moment. Live in the now and take things in on a day to day level. 

I see there to be more of musical bridge between albums, we tried to focus on patience on this album. Post Plague was a very intense listen, we wanted this to be something you can live in for the duration of the record. 

My predictions for music at the moment is a little more bleak in the sense that it there is so much of it and it's become so much easier for people to make. The cultural value it once held is sadly dying away so it's becoming harder and harder for people to grab onto anything for very long. If you don't actively seek outsider music then it would appear to be a massive sea of static noise and there aren't as many clear gate keepers to navigate the waters. That being said I think there is still so much great music being created all the time just to clarify but I thought the internet was going to democratize music especially for indie artist but it seems to have become an oligarchy similar to the US political landscape. My hope is for people to grow tired of the stock music beginning pumped out and hopefully manifest itself into the next counter culture, similar to punk or grunge. That's why an ideology like No Pop has the potential to be something powerful.

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JBH: I am kind of in a quandary about social media, I believe it needs to be protected as one of the only remaining <mostly> open Democratic platforms but at the same time, social platforms are still corporate and terrible things happen to real people in relation to their social media accounts all the time. 

The video for Check My Profile is pretty powerful and even jarring (see above) was there something specific that you were trying to say or show about social media (I contacted you on Twitter, so you use social media). Does the band have a vision of or for social networking?

DT: I do think net neutrality needs to be protected but corporations are very smart. I think the internet, the one you are talking about might have already died a few years ago. People mostly use only a few platforms to do everything now and those platforms have found more ways to keep you on their sites almost the entire time. E.G. look at Facebook now, when you click an external link you remain inside Facebook. I get social media but It's not something I excel at but I understand how it can be a very powerful tool. If you don't use it, you don't exist for most people these days. With Check my Profile lyrically I was looking behind the curtain to see what the true effects of social media are. As humans we really do need real human interaction, I worry that for younger kids growing up with it aren't truly living in the real world. Statically people are going out less, going to fewer shows and are happy to stay home with endless hours of entertainment. It's highly addictive stuff but ultimately does it make us happier? Statically it showing huge spikes in depression, isolation and while it's very convenient and easy I think biological we still need the human struggle to feel some sort of true accomplishment and purpose. 

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JBH: Are there other bands you think I, or anyone else, should check out?

DT: Recently was in LA and was checking out some bands. Ssleeper Hold was really cool dark electronic. Silent Servent, Not Waving, Chasms, Sextile, True Ghouls, Drab Majesty, 

JBH: Thanks for your time! Nice to meet you, hope to catch you live sometime,

DT: Thank you! 

Here is the Bandcamp page or Odonis Odonis:

Here are a few more videos by Odonis Odonis (pretty spectacular): 

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