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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Veteran music journalist with 20+ years of experience. Supporter of indie artists. Lover of day baseball, & B-movies. Part time ninja. Kicked cancer’s ass. My memoir, ChemBro, is out now!
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Artist Of The Week - Hank & Cupcakes
Monday, August 23, 2010

A few weeks ago I made a trip into the city to see Hank & Cupcakes. I’d heard, and dug, their self-titled EP and figured they’d be a good time live. With Hank, bass in hand, hitting the stage in sunglasses and unbuttoned coveralls, and Cupcakes taking her place standing behind her drums, wearing a shiny silver half jacket over a cropped top and also donning shades, I knew the performance I was about to see was definitely going to be different. In this case, different was good. Very good. Funky, vibrant, and just plain fun, Hank & Cupcakes are dance music with an attitude, and within one song they had the entire audience, myself included, moving to their beat. I caught up with the duo soon after the show to find out more about who Hank & Cupcakes are, how Cupcakes fell in love with the drums, and where they feel the unintentional sex appeal of their music comes from.

Adam Bernard: Start me off with a little bit of background info. How did Hank & Cupcakes come together?
Hank: Hank & Cupcakes was officially born at Tel Aviv in mid 2008 out of our conclusion that we wanted to leave Tel Aviv and come NYC. The initial idea was to build a solid bass and drum section and then add band members once we get to NY. We ended up staying with the bass / drums format, first of all, because it was too much fun! We also were, and still are, rehearsing every single day, and didn't think musicians would be down for doing such a thing without any compensation. Starting from scratch as one of thousands of Brooklyn based bands was very hard in the beginning, and at one of our early shows at The Delancey we played in front of an empty house. When we got on stage and started playing the bartender went away, too, but we killed it, seriously! People came in later on and in the end we even got offered another show. At that time we where extremely fortunate to have been invited to play by a lot by people who liked the band and believed in us. Six months after we got to the city we we were playing two to three shows a week in the tri-state area.

Adam Bernard: What attracted you to each other's musical personalities?
Hank: We were a couple before we started creating music together, so the first attraction between us was a personal and a physical one. On the pure musical level, we have been playing and creating together for ten years and our musical worlds evolved and matured in the same environments. To say the truth, it's hard to segregate between our musical attraction and personal attraction, or between our musical personality and personal personality. In our current way of living it's all mixed up since we are friends, a couple, and the two members of Hank & Cupcakes. We are not even really sure that we are two different human beings! So to answer your question, everything attracts us to each other.
Adam Bernard: Cupcakes, female drummers can be hard to find. Sheila E. and Lenny Kravitz' drummer being noted exceptions. What inspired you to pick up some drumsticks and learn the craft?
Cupcakes: The inspiration came from a beach in Tel Aviv called the Dolphinarium. I stumbled into a huge spontaneous African drums jam one Friday when I was 18 years old, only to later discover it was a weekly ritual with hundreds of drummers feverishly jamming as the sun set, and crazy hippies fire twirling and smoking pot in the background. This was my first real experience with drums. Up until then I was a singer, a pianist, a composer, a bit of an actor, a bit of a dancer but definitely not a drummer! That day I was completely taken and found myself drawn to one particular big African drum who's owner was playing with a pair of sticks. He must have seen me moving closer and closer because finally he asked me if I would like to play. I was beside myself! Of course I readily agreed and literally fell in love. I came back to that beach almost every night that summer to jam with beautiful strangers who became my friends on the pier.

Adam Bernard: With the exception of Genesis I don't know of a lot of bands where the drummer is also the singer. Did this make it difficult to put together your live show? What were some of the ideas you scrapped when first coming up with how you'd perform live?
Hank: When we started rehearsing initially we weren't actually thinking about the live show at all, but were focusing more on creating a new kind of music that would inspire us. We didn't even plan that Cupcakes would remain the drummer. We envisioned a full band with Cupcakes as the singer. The more difficult challenge was actually how to make music with only bass and drums without it sounding like, “hey! Where's the rest of the band?” We researched and experimented with the combination of the two instruments and figured out how to make them sound like a full band without the feeling that something is missing.

Adam Bernard: A lot of reviewers find a lot of sex in your music. Do you feel that this is a big element of what you do?
Cupcakes: If there is a lot of sex in our music it's because of the energy that comes out of us on stage, it has nothing at all to do with the music we create. Sex appeal was not something we planned on, or thought should be incorporated in our music. It must have happened naturally and we embraced it. The feeling we have on stage is one of complete freedom and no boundaries. There is also something very raw and almost tribal in what we are doing and it is very important to us to squeeze out powerful energy coming from our gut on stage, so expressing sexuality is actually a very natural thing in this context if you think about it.
Adam Bernard: What do you feel are the most important elements of your work?
Hank: In general the most important element is our complete devotion to what we do. It means that all of our resources, physical and mental, are focused on this band. Some people will say that it's hard, but we really feel that it's a blessing and that it's something that gives meaning to our lives, sort of like what religion is for a religious person.

Adam Bernard: In addition to being hard working, you’re also funky dressers. Cupcakes, you especially have a very unique fashion sense. How did you develop it and in what ways do you feel it represents you and your music?
Cupcakes: Both in fashion sense and music sense we're looking to keep ourselves interested and stimulated. It would be really boring to always be wearing the same things! Being in New York is very inspiring and gives the feeling that you can be anyone. We try to reinvent ourselves all the time and on all levels. Of course, fashion is the way we translate this into something visual. It's a lot of fun. We usually shop at second hand stores, mainly Beacon's Closet and Buffalo Exchange, and have recently been very lucky to have a few stylists dressing us up, too. You could say my hobby since age six is alive and breathing!

Adam Bernard: Speaking of what you wear; Hank, what was with all the lipstick marks you were sporting at the show I attended? Is there something we should know about?
Hank: This lipstick thing started at a photo shoot we did with Alan Lugo and Alison Li in which I was wearing lipstick and I kissed Cupcakes all over leaving kiss marks on her face (as seen above). During the week before the show we'd been shooting our music video for “Ain’t No Love” and this time we were both wearing lipstick dancing around MC Shane MauX (of Belikos) while he was doing his rap part covered with kiss marks. The show you were at was a continuation of that general vibe and mood. In general it's just a cool kinky idea that doesn't really mean anything... or maybe it does...

Adam Bernard: Finally, I gotta know, where does the infatuation with redheads come from?
Cupcakes: Nobody knows it, but Hank's beard, if he had one, would be red!

Related Links

Website: hankandcupcakes.com

MySpace: myspace.com/HankandCupcakes
YouTube: youtube.com/HankandCupcakes

Twitter: twitter.com/HankandCupcakes


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:47 AM  
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