J Bengoy's Vegan Meat Rock, Live from the Recovery Ward
J Bengoy's tofurkey surf jangle graced our fluorescent stage earlier this academic year. We had the pleasure of snagging some vegi-meaty cuts from their live performance (see below), and wrestling out some of the hotter-than-propane wisdom that fuels such crafty songwriting.
Mastered by Dan Thorn at Pink Noise | web: pinknoise-studios.com insta: @pinknoisestudios
WHRB: I find that your music lends itself well to this new genre-less age we’re storming into. Bits o’ surf-jangle, under the wide-brimmed/amorphous umbrella of ‘indie,’ self-described as ‘vegan meat rock.’ Your facebook bio is chock-full of self-deprecating metaphors, descriptive tools I also jive with when figuring out how to put your own sonic experience and creative process into words. What’s your favorite way to describe your own music, be it a picture, an instance, or one of those juicy extended metaphors?
JB: We wanna make songs for those in-between moments in life. Petting a wet, smelly dog. A bowl of your favorite cereal gets a little too soggy. The deep strangeness of growing up. That cognitive dissonance is as real as it gets, and there's an energy in there that makes the music come alive.
WHRB: J Bengoy are tried and true DIY-sters, playing shows from Brooklyn to Montreal to your own Burlingtinion territories. What’s been a notable DIY venue you’ve played at, at any of the above locations or at one I haven’t mentioned? Could you describe it for us?
JB: It seems as though every time we play in Brooklyn, we play at the most DIY venues. Our first show in Brooklyn was at the Greenpoint Gallery - imagine one of those scenes from Twin Peaks where the bands play at the Roadhouse - except instead of a bar, it’s an art gallery. Another time, argonaut&wasp hosted a rooftop party we played at on top of their apartment building in Crown Heights. It’s across the street from a police station. Hopefully the officers enjoyed the music.
WHRB: Speaking of DIY, I’m super interested in Burlington’s scene, and what made y’all stick around Burlington when choosing where to base your band. Does Burlington have the magical songwriting-inciting capabilities of Western Mass, or a teeming multidisciplinary art-scene that manages to float along under the radar?
JB: From our perspective, you can’t talk about the Burlington and Vermont music scene without mentioning the enormous impact Phish has had - in both good and bad ways. The scene has always birthed many great acts that are not jam music (Anais Mitchell, Grace Potter, Rubblebucket, Waylon Speed, Rough Francis, Kat Wright, etc.) but until the last few years, it felt like these acts were overshadowed by Vermont’s association with jam music. Thankfully, the non-jam scene has been getting more attention with the help of a few new developments. Waking Windows, a local festival in neighboring Winooski, has really elevated the scene here. The city government has chosen to help foster, as you put it, a multidisciplinary art-scene in the South End Arts District - where many artists, musicians, and machinists choose to have shops and studios (including J Bengoy) and ArtsRiot (a music venue that has hosted artists such as Whitney, Sheer Mag, and Pinegrove) has based itself. If you’re interested, some local bands that are floating just under the radar right now are Bleach Day, Paper Castles, Swale, Ivamae, Little Slugger, Clever Girls, Gestalt, Bison, Sleeping In, Guthrie Galileo, Alexis Hughes, and Erin Cassels-Brown. Ones that are receiving some regional/national attention are Francesca Blanchard, Henry Jamison, Iron Eyes Cody (now renamed Fever Dolls), Madaila, and former Burlington resident Caroline Rose. Sorry to talk your ear off about the local scene, but it’s something we’re all pretty passionate about.
WHRB: Your songwriting style ranges from tight verse-chorus shindigs to deliciously unraveling jam seshes. Is this variation contingent upon who is the primary songwriter for a particular track, or with how the band as a whole vibes with the track? Come to think of it, how does songwriting take place for J Bengoy?
JB: Usually one person will come forward with an idea and we’ll build off of that. That being said, there isn’t a clear process. Many methods are working right now - we’re riding by the seat of our pants.
WHRB: Speaking of songwriting - something tells me that your May release ‘So Good (I Could Die)’ is a foreshadowing tidbit of more good things to come… What upcoming releases do you have in store for us?
JB: Thanks! We just finished recording a full album in our studio. It’s being mixed and mastered now. Our latest single came out at the end of November! It’s called “Reprise (Marthasville)” and is available wherever you can find the internet. We’re at hard at work to release the album by February. Here’s the link to the single - https://soundcloud.com/jbengoy/reprise-marthasvill...
WHRB: Golden egg of a last question - how did the organ come to be? Where did it come from? Was it a studio gem that miraculously wove its way into the live plot?
JB: A family in rural Vermont found it in their basement and was selling it on Craigslist. The family included this gem of a video in their sales pitch - - so we had to buy it.
WHRB: Thanks again for coming in, and do give us a holler when you’re playing in Boston!
JB: Thanks for having us!
Lana Harris DJs/writes/beyond for the Record Hospital. Record Hospital has air 10pm-5am every weeknight.