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INTERVIEW: CYBERATTACK

Hi Ivan, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hey, I’ve been great, thanks for having me!

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Sure Thing”?

I think “Sure Thing” a pretty good introduction to the overall Cyberattack vibe: glitchy, uptempo, and on an emotional level it’s anxious and hopeful at the same time, which is where I live. Then the video is like a frenzy of Nintendo 64–era graphics, because the visual identity of Cyberattack is basically just broken video games. Then this is extremely dorky, but I think the thing I’m most proud of is the fact that at the very end of the song, I play a solo on a random tone generator—it’s literally a device that just makes random noises like R2-D2. It’s designed to be uncontrollable, or barely controllable. The choice to play a solo on that is classic Cyberattack. 

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

I had the title for a long time before I had the lyrics or anything else. I just knew I wanted to write a song called “Sure Thing,” and I had the title written down in a bunch of places. This was before Cyberattack, when I was in a different band, but then it broke up, and I got pretty spooked. I was stressed out about having to start over from scratch, and I decided to write a song about that, and then I finally saw a way to use “Sure Thing” in the lyrics.

How was the filming process and experience behind the video?

For me, it was pretty straightforward. The director, Edmond Hawkins, filmed me lip-syncing from the neck up, and then mapped that onto a polygon version of me in the video somehow. He came up with the whole story and everything. The only hard part for me was keeping the rest of my head completely still while he filmed me, so that it would be easier to edit. Normally on music videos, I have to keep the energy up while I’m lip-syncing and find creative ways to jump around and whatever else, which is hard. This was the opposite of that, and it was still weirdly hard. So basically moving around and not moving around are equally hard for me, and every shoot I do requires conquering my own self-consciousness as though for the first time, cool.

How was the recording and writing process?

The first 5 days of recording, putting down all the instruments for the whole record, was a total blast. I recorded the album at Studio G in Brooklyn, and everyone was great and all the performances were great. Basically it was high-fives all day long. Then it was time for me to do the vocals, and all of a sudden it was like, “Uh, why don’t you try again and relax a little this time?” In other words, sorry bro. Getting the vocals ended up being pretty hard, but in the end I figured it out. I just needed a lot of takes, and total privacy. Also, even though Cyberattack is a solo project, the producer, Geoff Stanfield, and engineer, Francisco Botero, ended up being very close collaborators. They played a big role in creating what Cyberattack actually sounds like—all the glitchy mayhem and weirdness.

What role does NYC play in your music?

I think the number-one thing is the extremely talented people I collaborate with. I already mentioned the producer and engineer, but there’s also the musicians I work with in Cyberattack. For live shows these days the core group is Rodney Flood on drums, Jeff Manian on keyboard, and Justin Goldner on bass, and all of them are really good. OK then also, the closest thing I have to a manager is my former boxing trainer, John Snow at Trinity Boxing in NYC, who now gives me advice about my music career in the form of boxing metaphors. I know that sounds like pure WTF, but I’ve decided to go with it.

Does the new single mean we can expect a new material – how’s that coming along?

Oh yeah, the entire debut Cyberattack album is mastered and everything. It’s called Hard Feelings, and it’s coming out soon. Between now and then I have a Tom Petty cover I want to put out on Valentine’s Day, “Listen to her Heart,” and I also want to release at least one more music video in the run-up to the album. OK and then AFTER the album comes out, I have an entire extra album’s worth of bonus tracks and alternate versions of the songs—those are like the musical equivalent of secret levels in a video game, or DLC or whatever, and I plan to release that also, as a separate album.

Any plans to hit the road?

For sure, hopefully this summer.

What else is happening next in CYBERATTACK’s world?

In addition to the music videos, I have this series of 5-minute documentaries on YouTube about my relationship with orange juice that I’m really excited about. I drink a lot of OJ, and Tropicana Pure Premium Low Acid happens to be my favorite. I actually have a lot to say about it, and that’s how the documentary series started. I’ve only released the first episode so far, and it’s just me explaining, in total seriousness, why Tropicana Low Acid is the one. Plus it uses a lot of weird graphics that are in the same world as my music videos. I don’t want to give too much away here, but my plan is to release a lot of episodeslike a lot—and at a certain point it’s going to leave the orange juice behind and I’ll just be talking about growing up in the suburbs and consumerism and current problems in the philosophy of art, stuff like that. However, I have reasons why Tropicana orange juice is still connected to all that, and connected also to the basic aesthetic of Cyberattack, so the entire series is going to be called Understanding Tropicana Orange Juice even after the episodes stop making sense. A link to the first episode is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lG6O4YvvCak

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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