From Fake Blood to Quantum Physics: A Conversation With The Bambi KillersPosted: January 16, 2012
By Sophie Rae via Sadie Magazine
The Bambi Killers play music, but don’t call them a band. They’re artists, musicians, activists, magicians, pyrotechnicians, dimensional travelers, and vaudeville circus performers– the list goes on. But what’s more important than what you call these three women is their message: anti-brainwashing, pro-individual freedom, and tapping into the human potential. Whether they’re drinking fake blood out of coke cans, smashing TV sets, or singing about UFOs and quantum physics, the Bambi Killers aren’t afraid to say what they think, even if you’re afraid of hearing it.
How did you all start playing music and performing?
Tanya: The universe brought us together, and it became really clear that we had to make a show. From very theatrical backgrounds and training, we came together to spread a general message of individual freedom and human potential. So there was plenty of material available, and it was just sort of an unusual thing that came about. It was very natural. Upon meeting each other for the first time we sort of knew that we had to do it.
How did you all meet?
Meghan: Being dimensional travelers we decided to manifest here in the third dimension, and it just happened that we all took shape in the same place and time, which was sort of a non-coincidental thing because there are no coincidences. Basically, we were all working in the Meatpacking District, so that’s where we met in the third dimension. We actually wrote a script about blowing the place up . . . breaking free and all that kind of stuff. Eventually, we transitioned into performance art, which we performed at different art galleries and performance spaces. We had one song, and we decided that music was translating the most, and people were really receptive to it, so we went down that path and became more like a band. But we’re not a band. We’re a traveling vaudeville circus family.
How did you come up with the name Bambi Killers?
Dawn: We came up with the name Bambi Killers in response to a few different things. One obviously was referring to the Sex Pistols’ “Who Killed Bambi?” But a lot of it is in response to large corporations, like Disney. Also on another note, ten years ago I met an Austrian wrestler called the Bambi Killer, and I really liked that name, and it always stuck in my head.
Tanya: The wrestler she is talking about made a point to be a little more theatrical and dress up in costume, which we do in our shows too. We all just took our various talents and applied them to these acts. Dawn is a designer, so she does costumes. We taught each other how to play instruments. Meghan and Dawn are both modern dancers, so they do choreography. Everything is do it yourself. It’s a solid unit in that way. Like I said, it all just came together, and we each feel equally passionate about being alive and being in this world, and it is a priority and a duty to use these powers to communicate these very organic feelings we have about freedom.
Meghan: Also, to the Bambi Killers name question, there’s sort of the loss of innocence that Bambi represents, and obviously there’s the irony with the Disney thing, but it still has a very earnest quality to it. One of our first acts was about female victimization and showgirls and Hollywood, so that especially at that time was pretty significant, and still is because we’re all women.
Do you feel like you’ve encountered a lot of sexism during your shows?
Dawn: I think it depends on the venue and the circumstance in which we’re performing. It’s a lot more embracing, and people seem to analyze and understand what we do a lot more if it’s at an art space or art gallery or in more of an artistic environment. I think it’s harder for us, and we may face that sort of thing more [sexism] at a standard music venue or a rock club or a rock festival because those shows are very male dominated. We do take off some clothes, and people definitely try to make that the point of our show. But I think we contradict that by being so destructive and using fake blood. That element of our show kind of puts it where it’s supposed to be.
Tanya: We don’t really fit in. We have costume removals, and we’ve played at burlesque events, but we don’t really fit in their because we play rock and roll. We don’t really fit into the music community because we get interrupted by various sirens that we’ve created and then act out theatrical skits. Our final outfits are sparkly brassieres and beautiful stockings, but we’re also covered in blood that comes out of coke cans after we march to a Black Sabbath song and destroy a television set with a chainsaw and then sing a song about UFOs. So an art gallery or theatrical environment is our favorite place to perform, because they’re supportive, and they want to think about something. Most of our shows are kind of an experiment for us, seeing the effect we have on people. Since we’ve started people have either loved it or hated it. I think that’s a good thing.
Meghan: A lot of people break up at our shows, like couples.
Dawn: Or we’ve broken up with our own boyfriends at our shows!
You mentioned the use of fake blood and violence in your performances. What’s the significance of that, or is it just for the show?
Tanya: It’s absolutely a part of the storytelling, because we don’t start off that way. For example, the act we’re doing now, the Human Condition, we build and collect props that we destroy throughout the act as part of telling the story. We start out completely clean, and then we transition after hearing the Twilight Zone music or a bomb siren, and then we break free from that, so it’s sort of a destructive but rebuilding process that we express. It’s definitely necessary; it’s just a part of the way we tell the story.
Dawn: Pretty much in all of our shows we start out in a place where we have to break through something or break free of something in order to be free again and spread the message of freedom and anti-brainwashing. It’s sort of a challenge that we have to overcome in every show, and that’s the point in the show when we start breaking shit, when we’re not brainwashed anymore and we’re free and we can translate this message that we’re trying to tell to everyone.
Meghan: I mean, there’s a slight self-indulgence, because it is totally fun, I’m not going to lie, but it brings me back to an animalistic quality that I hope translates to the audience because inherently we’re all animals, and we’re always fighting something even if we’re doing it intellectually or we’re just wishing we could and sitting at home. This is sort of an active way to represent that. Also, there’s a comedic element to everything we do. Not like comedians or like “ha-ha” funny but with a sense of humor about the world and the way we see it and society and how we relate to it.
You mentioned freedom and anti-brainwashing as some themes you deal with in your shows. What are some other themes that you’ve addressed in your shows?
Dawn: We have different themes like the ones you mentioned, but it’s kind of all-encompassing. Government conspiracies, whether they be anti-government or just political commentary and also things like aliens, inception, government cover-ups, secret programs. Basically it’s things that are happening that the government or media fail to recognize and that people are too brainwashed to think about. Or just, like, current news and social issues that we feel like responding to.
Tanya: Also things like plastic surgery and consumerism and just, like, how these things are vacant, disposable ideals that are put on a pedestal for no reason and that have no worth except making you feel less capable of creating your own reality. If everyone was aware of their own human potential it would be an incredible revolution.
Meghan: We also have a song called “Quantum Physics.”
Tanya: Quantum physics is a big theme for us. It’s a scientific variable that’s based on the idea that energy is everything and through thought you can manifest your reality. You can make your dreams come true by having simple faith in yourself and not allowing fear to infect you.
What are some of your influences, musically or otherwise?
Dawn: Musically, for me anyway, a lot of the early ’70s punk bands like the Freeze and even early Black Sabbath, stuff like that. Otherwise, my biggest influence is the Coast to Coast AM radio show. Basically it’s about the occult and the supernatural. I’ve been listening to it since I was twelve. They have these ex-NASA scientists and engineers talking about crazy shit that’s going on that nobody wants to recognize or that people are afraid to talk about because people will think they’re nuts. It’s awesome information, and it’s super inspiring for me.
Tanya: Any music that’s simple and tells the truth. Like Johnny Cash or Woody Guthrie. These people had really simple chords, but they talked a lot of shit and they were able to because they put it to a sweet, simple song. There’s also this band called the Avengers with a female lead who sings a lot about the end of the world and waking up from a zombie-like state. There are influences everywhere.
Dawn: A big inspiration is just old punk music in general. We aren’t the best musicians, and it’s not really about how good or how produced our sound is; it’s more about the politics and lyrics and the message behind it, which is what punk is.
I noticed that the “about” section on your Facebook page describes your live shows as controversial, and you talked about the destructiveness of your shows. What would you say is the most controversial thing you’ve ever done at a show?
Dawn: I’d say probably our Wall Street show was one of our most controversial. We played at a Halloween party for . . . what banker was it, guys?
Meghan: Morgan Stanley.
Dawn: Yeah, Morgan Stanley. Randomly I met this guy in a suit at a bar; we were playing downstairs. He obviously had no idea about our show or what we did, but he was trying to invite me to this fancy banker Halloween party, and I was like,“Oh yeah, no thanks,” but I was like, “I’m in this band. Here’s a sticker.” The next day he contacted us and was like, I want to book these girls for my party. Obviously he didn’t take the time to look into us or research us at all. He just thought we were some chicks that looked OK and would be good at his party.
Meghan: Yeah, so he asked us to play and they’re paying us, and it’s at Terminal 5, a giant place we’d never be able to play otherwise. And it’s literally just packed with guys in suits and their girlfriends in the slutty French maid outfits, and they’re wearing masks and getting wasted and partying. So we kind of altered our show to cater to this event. We came out wearing suits and old-man, Bernie Madoff-style masks, throwing fake money to the track from Cabaret, you know, “Money, Money, Money, Money” [singing].
Tanya: Yeah, so we’re like tearing the money and throwing it in their faces. And then we took off the suits, and underneath we’re wearing bloody hospital dresses. They didn’t clap, and they were yelling at us that they’re Republican. And it was right after the Wall Street crash, and I have family back home who lost their jobs, and I wanted to attack them, but all I did was call them robots. So we got chased out, and they were yelling at us outside of our dressing room. They were not happy that we were there.
Meghan: Is that the show where someone naked ran into our dressing room, trying to fight us?
Tanya: I think that was somewhere else.
Meghan. Yeah, that was somewhere else.
Tanya: The content of our show just kind of naturally takes on a controversial shape. A lot of times people say, like, “Why are these girls doing this?” We’ve done an array of things that have made people uncomfortable.
Meghan: We did have a show, a fourth of July show, where we ate hotdogs out of our underwear. We’re all vegan . . .
How do you develop your shows? Is there one part of the show that comes first? How does that process happen?
Meghan: We’ve got a lot of ideas that we’re kicking around all the time while we’re doing other shows, and then when we’re ready to develop a new show we brainstorm back and forth and develop music at the same time. Usually we come up with a story first and decide what our message is, what we want to say.
Tanya: Then we figure out the other parts of the show. We do magic tricks; we have pyrotechnics; we use heavy machinery, and we even dance. So we try to incorporate as many different elements from as many different places as possible to provide a sense of surprise. If you come to our show once you’re not going to see everything we prepare, and that’s part of the fun I think.
Do you all contribute to every part of the show equally, or does one of you do more of one thing?
Tanya: After doing this for a few years or so we’ve kind of gotten into a groove where we know which person is best at what. Dawn is the only one who knows how to use a sewing machine and design clothes—she had her own line before this. Meghan does a lot of the writing. I get the audio together. We each introduce something constantly to the show. Come showtime we are each collecting props, whether it be glitter, which we throw at people in our spacesuits . . . A lot of people will take pictures of the stage after our show, and it’s covered in glitter, broken computers, zombie limbs, and fake money. We need all those things. And we need baby wipes to clean ourselves up after.
Meghan: We actually signed a contract in blood, blood being the life force that we use in our show, and one of the main things in that contract is equal creative control. So, no matter who has what responsibility, we all believe in what we’re saying and we all share equally in the value of it.
You were talking about the costumes that you wear for the shows. What’s you’re favorite costume you’ve worn?
Meghan: I like these questions!
Tanya: I like them too.
Sophie: I’m glad!
Tanya: I would have to say the green fairy dresses, these beautiful, sequined showgirl dresses. We started off onstage like a ’60s girl group singing the song “A Girl Can’t Help It,” and I was singing and Dawn and Meghan had tape over their mouths and were smiling like plastic dolls. Then it turned into this Willy Wonka scary hallucinogenic story, but it started out really pretty, like a David Lynch movie when you see the shot of the beautiful suburban street, and the grass is green but there’s this underlying tone of “something’s not right; something’s going to happen,” and those dresses sort of define that feeling for me.
Meghan: I also loved the final costume in that act, the green feather bra and underwear. Anything that Dawn makes is thoughtful and thought-provoking and definitely special and unique.
Dawn: I liked our marching band hats with the feathers. Those were really cool.
Tanya: I really liked those jumpsuits too.
Meghan: Do you mean the green army jumpsuits? We wore those in the show I’m Not Convinced, and then we started wearing them to shows. They became like our uniform.
How many different acts have you done?
Meghan: We have a repertoire of different acts. This year we’ve mostly been doing the Human Condition, but if we think that one audience would benefit more from something different we might go back and do one of our other ones.
Tanya: To break it down for you, we have Springtime, Green Fairy, The Patry Act, Human Condition, and I’m Not Convinced. So we have five and we’re working on our sixth act.
You talked about a new act you’re working on; what else is on the horizons for the Bambi Killers?
Meghan: We just did a mini-series of five or six shows in a row in NYC, which is where we’re from, so that was really awesome. And coming up we’ve got our series of short films, which is the Bambi Killers Vs. series. We’ve done the “Bambi Killers Vs. Zombies,” so we’re going to do “Bambi Killers Vs. Suits” and “Bambi Killers Vs. Bigfoot.” We’re also working on an LP that’s going to be completed with artwork and different stuff. We have some shows on the West Coast coming up too.
Dawn: Yeah, we don’t have any studio recorded music. The only recordings we have are very low-fi, live footage. We’ve gotten to a place where our songs are good enough to record them, probably on a little pink vinyl record. We have these really rad T-shirts, and we’re going to continue to make more of them that spread the message. We want to make a shirt to speak out against something, like the fact that insurance doesn’t cover mammograms unless you’re over fifty-five. That doesn’t make any fucking sense. There could be potential for a pro-choice T-shirt with a wire hanger . . .
Meghan: We have plans to do a benefit and also tour in Europe and go back to Edinburgh and try to generate some producer interest to get a larger show going, which would just be what we do now but more of it and with more behind it.
Tanya: The most immediate shift is going to be to the West Coast. That’s where I live right now, and I miss everyone with all my heart. I’ve been out here for about a year, and there’s nothing like it. I’m really excited to see the response to us. The people I have told are excited, and there’s a lot of potential for the particular energy that we create. I’ve been meeting with these people, it’s called TM, Transcendental Meditation, it’s involved with quantum physics. It’s this whole practice of mind power, and they have a center here in Beverly Hills, and I told them about our “Quantum Physics” song, and they were really excited and open and wanted us to be a part of their projects. We’re finding home in very unique places, whether it’s UFO conventions or quantum physics conferences. So if we just keep trying and keep making this thing we can collaborate with like-minded thinkers. That’s all we want to do, just keep making things with people who want the same thing and want to actually say something. There’s a lot of shit, and we’re something else. Some people may not like what we do, but they can’t deny that we’re making a solid effort at just doing something else.