In an attempt to free dance music from its monotonous constraints, The BeesKnees have combined their efforts to create some of the grooviest dance vibes in the city. They combine guitar licks, synthesizers and vocals in a way that would make you think they were mixed somewhere in the deep realms of outer space. Now who Billi D. (vocals), Scottfree (synthesizer), S2 (guitar) and Wizabee (guitar) really are is up for interpretation, so Centerstage thought it would be best to let them tell the story of the BeesKnees and how world domination is next on their agenda.
Where did you guys grow up?
Billi D grew up in Southern California and Dayton, Ohio while the boys grew up in and around Chicago.
What are your musical backgrounds?
Scottfree : Basically, about 10 months ago these three guys asked me to play in a band and I've been faking it ever since-although I played piano, bass, viola and drums when I was young.
Billi D: I started singing in the church choir at eight or nine. I picked up bass and alto clarinet in middle school. Then I did choir in high school.
Wizabee: At 14, I started playing guitar and studied under a former Chicago Symphony Orchestra trombonist. I took a shit load of music classes, and I've played in various wacky music experiences. Oh yes, and there were drugs.
S2: I started playing the horn at 10, and then I picked up the guitar when I was 12. I rocked my first stage soon after that, and have been doing it ever since-in about 25 different bands. From funk, world, rock, hip-hop, big band jazz bands, I've always tried to surround myself with as much music as possible.
Tell me about how you guys got together.
Scottfree: I was fighting the two-headed man eater of Zanzibar when I saw a ninja, Wizabee, lurking in the tree-tops. He delivered a devastating blow to the two-faced monster with a mystical axe. Then a lone viking, S2, came running in with yet another mystical axe and a hollowed out beast horn. In the midst of celebrating we played a tasty jam with mystical axes, beast horns and, being the shape-shifting robot that I am, I pumped out some greasy beats and twangs from my keyboard of destruction. Drunk off of whiskey and power we roamed the land and stumbled upon a Siren in the lake of fire. We threatened her life and she joined our group of misfits and maniacs and there you have it.
S2: If I can remember correctly, that's exactly how it happened.
After that, I'm curious to hear what motivates your music.
Scottfree: We're influenced by many people and situations, but we find the most inspiration in the moment. These guys are my favorite musicians.
S2: For me I've got to say Bob Barker, Kirby Puckett, and Ralph Wiggum. People aren't my only influences. Guacamole has had a tremendous impact on my sound since day one.
Billi D: I will wholeheartedly concur with S2's homage to the avocado as a major inspirational force in the life of the BeesKnees, both individually and as a whole. We are influenced by high vibrational sounds as well.
There's a certain "old-school" quality to your sound. How do you stay true to that classic sound, but still come up with something original?
All music is just a fusion of the past and the present. The "classic" style is formed from our analog instruments and the "progressive" style is from the electronic elements. But basically the music all started in jam sessions just going off, so we don't try and capture an "old-school" sound, it's just created naturally.
Chicago has a very eclectic music scene, does that consciously affect the way you make your music?
Scottfree: No, the scene is so eclectic because you have a whole city of cats doing what they feel.
S2: We'd sound the same anywhere. If there's a difference between Chicago and some other cities it's that there are a lot of humble cats around here you can learn from instead of compete with.
Is getting your listeners to dance your main goal?
S2: We like to dance so we make music to dance to. Most people don't dance and that's cool too as long as they're having a good time. If we're at practice, on stage or at the studio it's all funny business, so that's our main goal, to have fun.
Where do you hope to see The BeesKnees in the future?
Scottfree: I'll be a whack-job artist heavily into whiskey, cocaine and hot sauce. I'll have about 15 kids from various women and a hot ass bitch of a wife who physically and verbally abuses me on the regular, in public. S2 is going to be a creep show Neo-art enthusiast, he'll walk around in a robe with an I.V. filled with whiskey mumbling pig latin to himself. Wiz will end up in Thailand in the jungle with lots of young, old and crippled sex slaves. There will also be mountain goats, and a plethora of opium. Also, he probably won't have changed out of his "kung-fu" robe in about 20 years, so he'll pretty much be at his sexual peak. Billi D is going to land in some poor Spanish-speaking country fighting for the rights of the people, even though all they want is for her to leave so they can get back to farming instead of sitting in on her space cadet conspiracy theories. She's smoked a lot of crystal meth over the years.
Billi D: Traveling, collaborating, learning and doing what we want.
Wizabee: We see The BeesKnees as world leaders.
S2: Eating glorious sandwiches made of gold, bacon and honor.
The BeesKnees continue their journey at the Abbey Pub on Thursday, December 4.