CAPYAC, a French house duo based out of Austin, TX, is damn hard to pin down. The brainchild of Eric and Delwin, former high school pals, the group's strengths are only really understood when you run through the collaborators that these two credit for its ever-evolving flavor. With a repertoire of instrumentalists including names like Papa Mongoose, Zod, Bambi, and Moan, to their resident MC RuDi Devino, it's difficult to credit all the weirdos that make up the squad known amongst members as "the Potion". Their stage shows are a veritable hurricane of activity as each of the collaborators plays their part in CAPYAC's special brand of madness. With top-notch production and a litany of backing members, their releases cross between genres with ease and yet retain a consistent vision that can be veritably felt and heard, although perhaps not entirely understood by us mortals.
To get to the root of the insanity, we tracked the maestros down before their latest party to learn a little bit more about what decisions led them so astray. Eric and Delwin requested that we refer to them in the interview by their pseudonyms, Pablo Dingo and Queen Zaza, "on advice of our lawyers." We've also thrown in a couple of their most audacious songs so you can get fully immersed in the weirdo-world of CAPYAC. By their own admission they consider themselves pretty uninteresting, but we'll let you make that call for yourself!
(this interview has been edited for clarity.)
Magnetic Magazine: Starting off with the basics, when did CAPYAC first take form?
Queen Zaza: Eric and I were playing in a Communist punk band called Vlad and the Village. That was pretty ridiculous.
Pablo Dingo: It was pretty bad is really what it was.
Queen Zaza: It wasn't supposed to be.
Queen Zaza: We had a painted baby doll ripped in half and our lead singer would sing into its head. He was really great guy. After the Village wound down he headed to Washington where he went on to become an environmental lobbyist. He went full underground radical but on the surface he’s business ready.
Pablo Dingo: Straight up. We played house parties and things were going great. And then we started getting real venue shows and then we were like “Hell no.” Hearing the ungodly sounds we were making on those high-fi monitors closed that book quickly.
MM: How did the two of you first meet?
Pablo Dingo: Delwin and I played in an improvisational jazz band in high school. I was the stoner playing upright bass, then Delwin on keyboard didn’t talk to anyone and hated drugs. Then Marshall, known now as Papa Mongoose, was just kind of this aloof, maybe a little cocky, sax player. But he was pretty damn good.
MM: How have those roles shifted since then?
Pablo Dingo: So now all of us do drugs... Really though, everyone’s pretty mellow and at this point I think we're pretty humble. We certainly enjoy what we do. As you play more and you have more outside influence, people come in and they're like "I don't really like when you do that" and then one day you realize you can respond "I actually kind of do." That's been a developing thing.
MM: How often do you guys fight?
Pablo Dingo: Not very often actually. Usually if there's something that one of us doesn't like it’s "No I don't like that, let’s try something else." It’s not personal. It’s just "Fine, I'm not going to push this." But then there's certain things where I'm like "Oh man, I really want this" and then he'll be like "Okay, well why?" And then we'll talk through it. The most arguments come right when I wake up. We used to live together too so we had this rule where it was like "Once I wake up, if I don’t drink coffee I cannot talk to you." That was a thing we had for a second, kind of also not a joke.
MM: Based on your stage shows, it’s clear that neither either of you are really vying for the spotlight. Where does that come from?
Pablo Dingo: Probably our foolishness. I'm sure some of it comes from general improv tendencies that we have, probably stemming back to the jazz influences. I think some of it is entertainment and theatrics, but when it comes to theater we're not really good at it. I think the approaches artists take to shows are boring. It makes it more interesting to have crazy shit happen.
Queen Zaza: When it comes to our roles, we'll probably just keep delegating until we're not even on stage anymore. We’ll be sharing one suit backstage like a two headed conductor crew complete with two batons.
MM: As an extension of that, the two of you seem to push CAPYAC beyond the music space.
Pablo Dingo: Last year we did a fashion show as CAPYAC. It was an idea that was thrown out and put aside until three months before the show actually happened when we were like "Okay, I guess we're doing this thing." Then everyone kind of looked over at me and they were like, “You do clothes stuff, right?!” Behind the scenes it was a mess and it was like holy-shit, absolute crash-course on how to be a “fashion person”. On the front side we got really cool press and some amazing photos.
MM: What came first, the confusion or the creativity?
Pablo Dingo: Generally what happens is, you have this false sense of security around the event. It's gonna be great. I’m coming up with a fashion line and everyone's going to love it. And then you know, you get a little deeper, and then there's no one around to help and it's just me. From that point on it's pants-on-fire fear. But, I did it. And I think I'm doing a second one and pairing with a designer that's not based here in Austin. We were hoping to get someone out of Korea, because we have a surprisingly solid connection in South Korea.
MM: South Koreans certainly know how to party.
Pablo Dingo: Definitely. The lead single on the album we’re going to release in October has vocals from a k-pop star singing in Korean. We googled a list of 50 k-pop stars and he was the only person out of this list that wasn’t signed on a label, so we thought, "Oh, he'll probably answer his email!” So we emailed him and got no word for six months, but it turned out our hunch was right because one fine day we heard “I’d love to do it!” A week later he sends it to us and it's a better take than the original version we had sent him. He had ad-libbed all this stuff in there and it came out insanely really cool.
MM: How else do you find new people to work with?
Queen Zaza: So we just released a remix with this duo based out of Brooklyn called “Cool Company” (editors note: song linked above). A friend of ours found them on Spotify listed under our "Related Bands" and they sent an email on our behalf. Lo and behold, they hit us back quickly with a "We're actually putting together like a remix compilation EP so hey." So a lot of times it's as simple as us floating out emails to people who we feel would be likely to respond to us.
MM: What's the next weird project for you guys?
Queen Zaza: Torture music is a new theme we're working on that's really, really experimental. So experimental that you can't sit through it.
Pablo Dingo: Yeah I'm not sure what the usage is for it. I guess it says it in the title. I really hope that doesn’t turn out true. Obviously we're not trying to condone it. It’s just the mindset that we were in.
MM: One of your recent releases was the nearly 10 minute track titled "No." It's quite the epic journey, how does a song like that come together?
Pablo Dingo: The beginning of that song came while we spent a month living in Berlin. Everyone should go to Berlin for the summer 'cause it's beautiful weather. We did this thing where we were just like constantly trying to write. Me, him and Poppa Mongoose. Everyone would get 15 minutes, and then the next person would write for 15 minutes, and then the next person would tap them on the shoulder and be like, "Let me go, let me go." We would take it and either like, build upon it, rip it apart, or just scratch it. So at first came out pretty weird, but Delwin took it off into a dark room and did his own thing and when he brought it back all we could say was “oh shit, this is dope.” So it was born out of the mentality of collaboration but it was definitely his vision that turned it into its current form.
MM: So the collaboration and the mistakes informed his vision.
Pablo Dingo: Right, the revision process is something you have to use a lot to add depth to tracks that would otherwise feel very engineered. Delwin always does stuff to add personality. Like when I’m on a guitar and I'm like, "Ah shit, it's a little out of tune," he usually goes, "Keep it." Or he'll go into a 16 bar drum loop and move one little snare to make that beat a little late, and I’m like, "Wait, what? This shouldn't be late, you can make it perfect if you wanted to."