Keep your chin up

    [Part 2 of 2]


    [more:]Prefix Magazine: Do you work a day job or can you get by just doing Neva Dinova?

    Neva Dinova: I’m 28, I’ll be 29 this month. I don’t have a regular job and I’m not able to support myself doing this. I don’t have any bills. I paid off all my bills one time and then I just decided not to have anymore. So I don’t have any bills. I don’t really need much money. I just need to eat a sandwich or a taco every once in a while. All the money I spent in my life I’ve spent on musical equipment.

    PM: Do you write all the songs?

    Neva Dinova: I consider us a band in the old school sense, where we all work stuff out. For the most part, I’ll come to a practice with some stuff that I’ve worked on and we’ll try and get the vibe hammered out. I write typically all the lyrics. It just ended up that way. On the first recording, Heath wrote two of the songs. But I ended up singing them because nobody else wanted to, because it’s embarrassing.

    PM: Have you always sung?

    Neva Dinova: When me and Heath were little kids, they had a choir that had the same vibe as the Vienna boys’ choir. We’d sing in four-part harmony. And I guess singing is just a way to do some poems, if you’re into poetry. Singing’s a good venue for that. (But) when was the last time you walked into a book store and (said), “Hey, you guys got any good books of poetry?” I used to do some screaming, too. I used to holler.

    PM: How much of you’re lyrics do you think represent you?

    Neva Dinova: That’s an interesting phenomenon. I always believed the songs you come up with don’t necessarily represent you, they just kind of pop out of the air and you just kind of yank ’em down and jot ’em down and hope you get it right. But I’ve been noticing lately that after you get them down … you realize how closely these things relate to your life.

    PM: Do you acknowledge the praise in order to curb your ego?

    Neva Dinova: Here’s the thing with reviews. You don’t really know where these people are coming from. A good review could actually be a bad review because maybe (the reviewer) likes shit that sucks. “This Neva Dinova record is pretty sweet. Also, if you like dancing, listen to some Ricky Martin.” Maybe if you found out the kind of music these people were into you might be more offended (than stoked) that they liked your music. With bad reviews it’s kind of the same way.

    PM: How did the Bright Eyes split-EP come about?

    Neva Dinova: We’ve kept in touch. I’m a big fan of Bright Eyes, and I like the way he writes and I just think he’s a brilliant young dude. I’m totally impressed with him. And he follows our music, too. It started out with this friendship and mutual respect for what each other is doing. For Conor it probably doesn’t seem like that big of a deal for somebody to like his music. But for us it’s different.

    We had talked about getting together for a while now. Conor’s schedule is so hectic, and ours isn’t. We found some time and threw it together and started recording here in the basement at our house. Then we did some overdubs and some guitars over at Conor’s place. Then we gave the stuff to Mike Mogis (producer) and he laid down some tracks as well. We each had our hands on it, so it was just a genuine collaboration. It was a lot of fun.

    I basically played a bunch of songs for Conor that I was thinking about doing and had him pick the ones he liked, and he did the same. He didn’t like one of the songs he was doing. He’s like, “Fuck it, man.” And he goes home and the next day he comes back. He had written a new, a super sweet song that night. I was like, “Jesus Christ, dude. Am I supposed to go write one now? I can’t just do that.”

    PM: Have you been getting a lot more attention since the Bright Eyes Split came out?

    Neva Dinova: Hell yeah. That was a big ol’ bone Conor threw us, and it was real cool. That was his whole intention — to try to get people to listen to our music, because not a lot of people do. That’s pretty awesome, because I’ve always believed that creating anything and then not sharing it is akin to not doing it at all. It has all been super encouraging.

    PM: How do you feel about being called emo?

    Neva Dinova: I don’t care about the classification, really. They can call it whatever they want to. It’s all right with me. Sometimes people call it country, and other people think it’s soft rock. They’re like, “Man, you guys remind me of Hall & Oats so much.”

    PM: Did you guys try to do anything differently with The Hate Yourself Change?

    Neva Dinova: With the first one, when we actually played shows, the songs sounded more like us than they did on the actual recording. (With this one) we tried to get a real accurate representation of the songs in our heads, get the one outside as close as the one inside. We worked with textures and tonal qualities quite a bit. I like the idea of sounds resonating in your head and making it feel like it can blow off your shoulders every once in a while, if you hit the right notes at the right time. We spent more time on it, too. We were in the studio for a month, so it helped us realize the vision a little better. We worked with A.J. (Mogis), and he was awesome. He was really receptive to what we wanted to do.

    PM: I think it shows that you guys spent more time on this new album.

    Neva Dinova: I’m glad to hear that. You never know if people are going to like it. To me the record made a lot of sense. It’s kind of a downer. Originally the title was going to be Kill Yourself Or Somebody You Love. But while we were recording, something changed in my attitude, made me feel a little more hopeful. I was hoping that by the end of the album, even if you do hate yourself, that you can change, that you have the ability to make that choice. I told Jeff that (the album title we ended up going with) sounds more positive. He’s like, “Dude, the word “hate” doesn’t sound positive.” I thought the album had a lot more hope in it.