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Monday 9th August, 2010 1:45PM

Described by Fader Magazine scribe Matthew Schnipper as, “feminist in the same way that not voting for Hilary Clinton is feminist, Brooklyn, NY based girl duo (plus occasional live session musicians) Telepathe (Busy Gangnes + Melissa Livaudis) represent a unique proposition within the realms of crunked up avant-garde synth rock. In fact they might actually be the only act in the world operating within those paradigms, but maybe not. Mixing ethereal voices with stuttering southern rap drum patterns, unorthodox electronica and orthodox indie-rock sensibilities – Telepathe is something else. On the eve of two exclusive New Zealand performances I spoke with Busy Gangnes to get the telepathic low-down.

How did you and Melissa meet originally?

Well, we met through a mutual friend. We were tentatively looking at starting a band with this mutual friend, but we didn’t know each other. Then we ended up doing music together, she brought us together. We became a band called Wikked and played together for about two years. This was all in Brooklyn, New York.

Once Wicked broke up a couple of years later, me and Melissa continued making music together.

Were you both originally from Brooklyn, NY?

No, I’m originally from LA and Melissa grew up in New Orleans and Virginia.

How did you end up in New York?

I think we were just drawn to New York and bored of our other lives. New York is a big exciting place with a culture and arts scene. Yeah, we were excited to come here. I mean, I was originally actually drawn here for dance, cause I’m a dancer. But I just ended up playing music, and dancing as well, but a lot more music then dance!

When you decided to start Telepathe, did you have a set idea of what you wanted to do musically?

Well, our musical ideas that came about on the record took awhile to evolve actually. In our old band, it was a rock band for the most part. I was playing a drum kit and Melissa was playing a guitar. We wrote all the music in a rehearsal space by jamming out. There was four of us so it was like a collaboration between all of us and everything happened in the rehearsal space.

When the band broke up, Me and Melissa decided we were tired of sticking to one instrument as we considered ourselves multi-instrumentalists. I wanted to make it a lot more melodic with my ideas by playing synthesisers and she, well, both of us wanted to write music where we were thinking about the song as a whole, not just being one piece of the song-writing.

Full composition!?

Yeah! And we wanted to spend a lot more time on song-writing. We just ended up the two of us, spending a lot of time together working on music all the time. It became so much more of a bigger part of our daily lives and we just found ourselves experimenting with more musical ideas. Over the course of a year we slowly created a studio and got more and more into writing stuff on a computer and using drum machines, samplers and synthesisers. Creating a song in that way, rather then getting together and jamming a song out on instruments.

Have you both played music for most of your lives?

I grew up playing the piano. I was pretty serious about it and classical music. Melissa has been playing in bands since she was in high school. She was always more of a guitarist. But we both play other instruments as well.

Speaking outside of music, what life experiences or interests do you think inform the way Telepathe sounds?

Like I said, I’m interested in dance and Melissa is interested in art and video. I feel like more then just being musicians, we’re really interested in the creative process. So we don’t have one specific way that a song will come about, or one technique; you know?

This band, me and Melissa making music, came from a lot of time together. We devoted a lot of time to making our musical life a priority. She and I don’t really have a strong career pursuit outside of that. We’re working towards our dream, you know? We were working jobs to fulfil this goal to be able to have enough time to make music. We were struggling, especially at the time we were making Dance Mother and we shared a room and we would go and work in cafes, then come home and make stuff.

Telepathe perform on the 4th of January at The San Francisco Bath House in Wellington and on the 5th of January at Whammy Bar in Auckland.

Martyn Pepperell

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