Descartes a Kant: Artist Interview

Descartes a Kant, image courtesy of Secret Service PR


Quickly making their way into the United States, Descartes a Kant continues to surprise everyone with their unique musical tones. Originally from Mexico, the band has reached thousands internationally. The band is made up of Sandrushka Petrova, Dafne Carballo, Ana Cristina Morelos, Memo Ibarra, Jorge Chávez, and Andro Muñoz, all working together to mix their love for rock n' roll and their culture into one project. Sharing a connection to the culture they were raised in, I was more than excited to hear what they had to say about the new album...

Danielle: What was the writing process like for Victims of Love Propaganda
Memo Ibarra (bass/synth):  It was a very personal and intense experience, and it was months of research within the subject of modern relationships and the evolution of them. It was also the first time we kind of wrote with a deadline, so that made the whole process very different from the previous recordings. Plus, this was the first time we conceived an album with the current line up, so it has some involvement from other members in the writing, unlike the previous albums.

D: How has your culture brought a big influence into not only this album, but your previous albums and works as well? 
M: Although musically it might not have influenced the sound of Descartes a Kant’s music directly, Mexican culture has definitely has influenced our band in several aspects since it’s a part of our daily lives. The fact that we have this kind of a band in a country like this is a challenge, since is totally unusual for the scene, so the struggle that we face everyday is definitely a part of what constitutes all of our art including albums and live shows. There is also a big influence from the United States culture since our front-woman Sandrushka was born and raised until age 7 in California, and most of the band grew up listening to alternative rock music from the US like Nirvana, The Pixies, Sonic Youth, Beastie Boys, Dresden Dolls, etc and punk rock bands like Dead Kennedys, Fugazi, etc.

D: Your new label, Cleopatra Records, is releasing the album outside of Mexico, how does that feel?! 
M: It feels like a great accomplishment for us, since it’s the first time one of our albums is released outside Mexico, so we are extremely happy and thrilled for it. But also, we see this as a responsibility and a challenge, we are taking it as a great opportunity to get to do more work in the US, since we feel like our band has done pretty well over there and have had great feedback in the shows we’ve done there.

D: What do you want the fans to take away from this album? 
M: We have always been fond of the idea of letting people take our art and vision and make it their own. Having said that, we like to think of this as a somewhat different break-up album from the ones we have heard in the past, so we basically expect weird and corky people to find it useful, haha

D: The second song off the album, “Motion Picture Dream Boy,” is already out and is so unique in sound and visuals; does this give a clue to the feel of the new album? It kind of does, it’s like the beginning of the hole theme; visually, you get an introduction of the characters and a glimpse of what’s to come in their relationship. It’s the crush part of it. And sound wise, I would be lying if I said it gave a clue, since all the songs have their own thing going, it’s very diverse genre-wise, as all of our albums have been, but maybe sonically you can start to feel the vibes of the direction we took in terms of production.

D: You have described the album as an “emotional porn album,” can you expand on that meaning? 
M: We use that phrase as a reference, meaning it’s like displaying someone taking their insides and guts out for the rest to watch.

D: How does your album artwork add to this play on a “modern love relationship”? 
M: The interior artwork is a representation of the female (and main) character’s notes and photos of her past relationship, and how she goes back and tears some stuff apart and writes some heartbreak phrases… it’s like a diary with some collage stuff. The cover art we think it’s pretty clear and strong in its message: A couple kissing with anti-gas masks that represent the current state of relationships, like not realizing the toxic part of it.

D: Was working with Steve Albini intimidating when knowing the talent he has worked with (i.e. Nirvana, Pixies, Breeders)? 
M: I think the intimidating part came the weeks or months before the recording, because we really are huge admirers of his and those particular bands, and some of us are even fans of some of his less known recordings; also, being a band used to tons of post-production detailing and hundreds of layers and tracks we were obviously worried about recording in tape for the first time, but I think the moment we met him and talked we were relieved to see he was a really nice person and he really made us feel very comfortable at all times during the process.

D: This is your third album, how was growing as a band been along all the years of hard work? 
M: To say we have learned a lot from the past two albums experiences would be an understatement, throughout these 10+ years we have lived together, literally in the same house the six of us lived together for 3 years, have gotten to know what it is to tour in places like Russia, Brazil, Spain, USA, Costa Rica, Colombia, etc.. sometimes sleeping all in the same room, sometimes in fancy hotels and sometimes in the floors of houses, so we basically could say this is like a long-term relationship with 5 other persons instead of 1. We’ve basically grown up together. 

D: How would you set this album aside from the other two? 
M: This one is more in-your-face with the lyrics, and we think it kind of has the intensity and power from the first album with some of the ambitious arrangement work of the second album. It can also be set aside from the previous ones because it deepens into a more direct and everyday subject like love. Also it has a lot of synth oriented sounds in the guitars.

D: The name you have chosen for your band, Descartes a Kant, refers to two strong philosophers. Has that influenced your band and the different sounds within your albums and in what ways? 
M: In the first album Paper Dolls it might have, since our songs at the time were style-shifting bipolar-schizophrenic pieces of less than 2 minutes, so we always made the analogy with Descartes and Kant: two completely opposite lines of thought within the same period of time, similar to our songs.

D: What made you decide on this particular name for your band? 
M: Sandrushka, the band’s founder, was looking for a band name while reading a book on modern philosophy, where the chapter “De Descartes a Kant” caught her eye. She found it a great analogy for the band’s music proposal at the time, and also thought it sounded better than the rest of the names on the list!

D: What have you noticed is different when playing a festival versus your own headlining tour? 
M: For a band like us, festivals seem odd. Don’t get me wrong, we love playing festivals cause it allows us to expose our music to a great quantity of people, but being a band that is sort of a theater play, we work so well when we can interact with the audience. Also, having a punk background, we have always loved to play the really small shows when we have the crowd in our faces. It’s a tricky thing, because doing the show that we currently want to do, and all the production it implies, it’s getting near impossible to do the small venue thing anymore. But we get around, we find ways.

D: Speaking of tour, we know you are set to play your own shows soon, how has the process been for that especially when adding in the new songs you are about to release? 
M: It’s been exhausting and fun at the same time. We take the live aspects very seriously, and we treat the stage with utmost respect, so preparing the new show has come with long days of work involving pre-production, new choreographies, scenery, visuals, lighting design plus the rehearsal of the live version of the new songs.

D: Your shows are known for bringing people completely out of their element; will this tour bring just as much if not more to the imagination for the fans? 

M: Definitely, although that question will be up to the fans, but what we can tell you is we definitely will continue with our pursuit of making a different experience for the audience each show, and we will give 110% of ourselves every time as we have always done.

D: Are there any exciting or possible surprises for the fans to look out for on tour? 
M: Lots of them, we are taking our set to other levels in terms of theatrics, even more so than with Il Visore Lunatique. You can expect a hole new universe full of the unexpected.

D: What places are you most anxious to visit? 
M: We would love to tour other places in USA besides the ones that we have done some times in the past (California, Texas and Chicago) like the East Coast, for example. Also, we are excited for touring Europe properly, since we’ve only done it sporadically.  

After speaking with Memo and researching live shows from this incredibly unique band, I highly suggest giving this fantastic band a listen and going to a show. Who knows, we may just run into each other in the crowd! Descartes a Kant has shown that they deserve to be heard all over the world and their new album, Victims of Love Propaganda, drops May 12, 2017. You can catch me being one of the firsts to listen.

Victims of Love Propaganda
comes out May 12th, 2017

VICTIMS OF PROPAGANDA - DESCARTES A KANT, image courtesy of Secret Service PR