A Place Both Wonderful And Strange is the Brooklyn-based duo whose name, while a reference to the cult TV series Twin Peaks, also exemplifies the dynamic of their personality and sound. Call it “occult electronica” or “doom gaze.” Whatever. Call it what you will; they mix electronica, goth, shoegaze, and dream-pop among other genres to create something truly unique.
The new EP is titled The City Smells Like Cat Spit and features the ultra-hypnotic and intoxicating “Kristae” as well as 3 remixed cuts. We’d like to thank them for taking a few moments out to answer a few of our questions.
Chain D.L.K.: The new EP, The City Smells like Cat Spit, is due out later this month…how did you come up with the title, and can you talk a bit about the album art?
Russ: The title is a lyric from the song Every Stone A Seance, off our 2017 album What I Speak I Create, presented in a refashioned form akin to how we do it live on this EP. It’s such a weird twist of phrase but it was the first thing I wrote for that song, which is the first and only love song I’ve ever written, so it seemed fitting. It’s something that, I think particularly in New York, registers as a kind of ongoing condition that you deal with, but not in a negative way.
Laura: On tour, we saw this weird little guy on top of a car in the parking lot of the Best Western in Virginia or someplace, and at first I couldn’t believe my luck! I asked Daniel (our tm) to be sure he saw it too! Who is this little guy?? We just had to get a picture, and that’s how the cover artwork came about.
Chain D.L.K.: There are 3 remixes on the new EP and 1 new track, Kristae. Can you talk a bit about the mixes and who Kristae is?
Russ: Kristae is a girl with a past, a little bit of history, what all of us can/could be on the proper night out. To some extent, she’s a correction of “American Psycho”.
Laura: We played a show upstate for this great party our friend throws, and it was the middle of winter. Russ and one of our friends who used to be funny started riffing on this idea of post-punk songs. Ultimately, Kristae is every lost girl who our poisonous society of terrible men pushes aside and renders meaningless and helpless within their own lives.
Chain D.L.K.: For the new readers, can you talk a bit about the meaning behind the band name and provide a bit of a brief history?
Russ: A place both wonderful and strange started as a solo noise project of mine and has gone through a couple of iterations–essentially processing how to make the leap from noise to a darker leaning of pop. Laura and I met at a Prince memorial party I was throwing, and we immediately decided we needed to work together, and now a couple years later, we’re here. The name is a quote from Twin Peaks, a line spoken by Special Agent Dale Cooper, that I’ve actually had as a tattoo since longer than the band’s been in existence. The love and appreciation for an intersection of beautiful and weird–or wonderful and strange–is really at the heart of this project.
Laura: Which one of us do you think is wonderful, and which one of us do you think is strange? I keep changing my mind about it.
Chain D.L.K.: You have some upcoming shows, including the EP release later this month and a special Halloween performance of your David Lynch commission, “Laura Palmer Deviations,” right? What’s the difference musically and visually with this piece as opposed to your normal show? What can people expect to be different?
Russ: Yes! The Laura Palmer Deviations performance is one that’s special, and we haven’t done this one in quite some time. It’s a massive audio/visual/movement piece that incorporates Palmer Family home movies, hidden parts of Twin Peaks, and found footage to tell the story of the tragic final hours of Laura Palmer’s life, soundtracked by Laura and I.
Laura: This party is going to be nuts. We have some surprises and some great art lined up at one of the most interesting venues in Brooklyn.
Chain D.L.K.: You recently made an appearance in pop star Robyn’s new video, “Missing U – Message to My Fans” which has now been seen over 200,000 times. How did this whole thing come about?
Russ: This is a long and crazy story that’s kinda captured really well by the film’s director, Danilo Parra, but to try to get the entirety of it: two of my other friends and I have a DJ trio called ADVENTURE[s], and we’ve been doing a Robyn tribute party for about 8 years now. Laura started helping us out with them a couple years back, because she’s a jack of all trades, and lo and behold, in May we got word that Robyn was aware of these parties and wanted to come…the rest is history.
Chain D.L.K.: You and your bandmate, Laura, also have other endeavors; DJing, films etc. Talk a little bit about that. Where might you be found elsewhere outside of the band?
Russ: Well, I’m a DJ with ADVENTURE[s]–we do parties monthly at Brooklyn Bowl (in, of course, Brooklyn)–and I work in fitness. Then, with my wife Vanessa (who has her own band, knifsex, and under that name she’s worked on music with APBWAS for quite some time here and there) I co-run the New Jack Witch site (newjackwitch.com), that’s essentially magical workings for the oncoming apocalypse. I started working on a non-fiction book, so we’ll see how this goes.
Laura: Oh, I’m always knocking around the tabloids in one way or another.
Chain D.L.K.: Other than the EP release show this month and the Halloween shows, what other plans do you have for live shows? I heard a rumor about a mini-tour in November.
Russ: Hometown shows–we’re performing at one of our fave local spots, The Footlight, Sept 6, with a bunch of really great bands: www.facebook.com/events/1512717505499832 . On the whole, though, we’re working on new music–it’s a change of pace for us to be in a situation where we start writing, try a song out live, then take it back to the studio to tinker, and then take it back out.
Chain D.L.K.: How do you think that the new material differs from your previous work?
Russ: See above–it’s all cohering together in a really cool way. If you’re looking towards our way forward, Kristae was definitely a song that as we hammered on it was like, “more like this”.
Laura: I get to go hog wild on a guitar!
Chain D.L.K.: This summer you did your first real mini-tour of the US. How was that experience? Any noteworthy shows or spinal tap events?
Russ: Actually, our second–the first was in 2017, for the What I Speak I Create tour–this time was with the covers EP under our belts and the desire to try new things live, where it feels more electric. Let’s see, we stole a tambourine…I don’t think I can talk about that…
Chain D.L.K.: What other plans do you have for the rest of the year and next year? A full-length release, perhaps?
Russ: The rest of this year is writing, performing, writing, performing, rinse and repeat. Ultimately I think we’d like to get something that’s cohesive together for next year, then tour en force behind it.
Chain D.L.K.: Many many years down the road, a very distant relative locates a box in the attic of an old home. In that box, they locate some of your recordings and something to play them on. What would you like this person to know about your legacy simply from listening to your music?
Russ: That this band was more than the sum of its parts. We scoop a lot of genres into our bands, then smear them on the wall, and what comes out is uniquely this sound.
Laura: That this is best friend music and that idea is massive.
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