Iska Dhaaf Interview

Published On June 27, 2014 | By Chelsea Strub | Interviews

iska dhaafIf any one knows how hard it is to put out an album, it’s Nathan Quiroga and Benjamin Verdoes—the alt rock duo of Iska Dhaaf. These guys spent the last three years writing lyrics, learning how to play instruments, and producing their debut album, Even the Sun Will Burn. It was released back in March and now they’re spreading the word on tour. They will be in Pittsburgh on July 1st at the Smiling Moose. We were lucky enough to chat with Ben and Nate while they were on the road this week. Check out our interview below in which they gave us some details about their process, their music, and even their new video for the song, “Everybody Knows,” with a cameo from Macklemore.

You guys spent 3 years on your recently-released debut album. Can you tell us a little bit about your process and exploration you went through while writing the album together?

When we started the band, it was more like a writing project because we’re both songwriters. Nate was learning how to play guitar and I played the bass. We would just work on song structure for exploration. We didn’t really think of it as a band and then we started putting together stuff that we were really proud of and we decided to call it a band and work toward a record. We started focused on writing and didn’t really think about performance or press or anything for quite a while

What inspires you to write about apocalyptic worlds in your music?  

I think from a number of different stand points, especially from science, we’re on the brink of a really intense time. The world’s resources are being used up at an exponential rate. Politically, there are ongoing wars and the possibilities of mass-destruction is always there.  If you study apocalyptic literature and the tradition of art and the notion of the destructiveness of people, it makes sense. There’s a lot of horrific things happening in the world right now. So the idea of the apocalypse is voicing that desperation that we’re in right now.


What inspired the USO Show setting for your new video “Everybody Knows”?

There are some characters that are written into “General Malaise” on our record and Nate starting toying with the story and expanding it. For the “Everybody Knows” video, we took those characters and brought them to life. In the research that I was doing I found these Super 8 clips  starring Anne Margret. She was on this small stage in the middle of nowhere in Vietnam dancing for these troops and the sense of urgency we thought fit the song really well.

What was it like to work with other Seattle musicians on the set of the “Everybody Knows” video? 

It was really inspiring because we did so much work to tell everyone about it.  It needed enough people to make it feel real.  A lot of our friends from the community came out and supported us. One of the cool things about it was that it had an effect on people.  People actually felt like there were in a different world and it triggered something. Back then these soldiers were younger than I am right now in this like real conflict.  I am only going to be in a music video and I feel this intensity so that was really special and magical.

 What’s the music scene like in Seattle?

It’s really diverse theres a lot of different stuff going on. The hip-hop scene is really awesome right now and theres a lot of folk bands and punk bands. Theres a lot happening and it seems to fit together really well and everyone collaborates so it’s really rich.

If you’re into it, check them out on at 7pm July 1st at the Smiling Moose. Tickets can be purchased here.

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