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20 Questions: Pyyramids

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Tuesday, Jan 3, 2012
What happens when you combine one member of He Say She Say and one of the pop masterminds behind OK Go? You get PYYRAMIDS, and a delightfully warm 20 Questions feature as well.

PYYRAMIDS might be one of the easiest bands to Google in the world, but what’s even more unique about the group might very well be sounds that it makes.


After all, PYYRAMIDS is the brainchild of two very different artists. On one hand, you have Chicago-bred Drea Smith of electro-pop duo He Say She Say, who also has done some time stinting with Chi-town’s very own Lupe Fiasco.  On the other hand, you have Tim Nordwind, who is one of the most recognizable members from quirk-rock masters OK Go, whose hits are too numerous to mention here.  Together, the duo form PYYRAMIDS, and their sound comes off like a merging of pop music, electronica, and experimental quirkiness, all into a package that’s as radio-friendly as it is musically daring.  Although their debut Human Beings EP is only four songs long (five if you count DMK’s remix of the title track), it shows a group with a lot of promise.


To help celebrate the release, Drea sat down to answer PopMatters’ famed 20 Questions, here revealing a love for all things Daria, how her songwriting stems from people-watching, and how phone calls with mom helps keep this rising star sane . . .
  
* * *


1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?


The last movie that made me cry was Blue Valentine. I bawled my eyes out in the theater. It was such a good film. Despite that fact, I was mad at my boyfriend at the time for taking me to see a film about a deteriorating relationship. Not a good date movie. 


2. The fictional character most like you?


All my guy friends would say Daria. You know, the ‘90s cartoon character. I watched that show religiously from ages 11 through 14. They tell me I’m too dry and cynical . . . and I have an affection for combat boots . . .

3. The greatest album, ever?


There are sooo many great albums . . . I have two that changed my life forever: Low End Theory by A Tribe Called Quest and Bad Brains’ self-titled album. They are both the greatest albums to me for the same reason. It was upon listening to these albums that I realized that people who looked like me could do whatever they wanted musically. Explore any genre if they wanted to. I still love both of these albums and listen to them as if they were new.

4. Star Trek or Star Wars?


Star Trek, hands down.

5. Your ideal brain food?


People. I draw from my observations of people. I’m a people watcher. In most social situations one would assume I’m anti-social, but I think I’m just naturally observant. It’s funny the things that people say and do when they don’t know someone is watching them, or how choreographed they are when they know someone is watching them. 

6. You’re proud of this accomplishment, but why?


I haven’t accomplished much. Yet . . .

7. You want to be remembered for . . . ?


I want to be remembered for doing what I wanted to do, the way I wanted to do it, and being successful because of it. And also for putting together killer outfits with very little dough!

8. Of those who’ve come before, the most inspirational are?


Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, the Smiths, Debbie Harry, A Tribe Called Quest, Ian Curtis, Bad Brains . . and I’m not gonna lie, Kanye West is pretty damn inspirational. That man works hard, even if his genius isn’t completely appreciated now. It will be. 

9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?


Anything visual or design related! I have no visual art skills whatsoever . . . I love [Jean-Michel] Basquiat and Keith Haring. I love what Riccardo Tisci is doing with Givenchy. I appreciate the simplicity of the silhouettes Alexander Wang uses in his designs. I love fashion and art, I wish I had that in me. 

10. Your hidden talents . . . ?


Hmmm, I wish I had one . . . but sadly I don’t. 

11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?


My mother always told me, “Don’t make yourself appear small to make others feel bigger.” It’s very useful advice. I find myself in the room with big personalities more often than not. I hold my own . . . for the most part .

12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?

Best thing I ever bought was my laptop. I worked two jobs to get it. I was sooo disconnected before owning my own computer. I felt so left out in the coffee shops. The only girl reading a book . . .

13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or . . . ?


I feel best in jeans and a t-shirt. The less complicated, the better.

14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?

I would take Richard Pryor. Like, Harlem Nights-era Richard Pryor. He would be a great dinner guest. He could make all the small talk and jokes while I ate and drank everything. He would offend people in the best way! 

15. Time travel: where, when, and why?


I would travel back to late ‘70s/early ‘80s New York. Everybody was doing art and fucking up and making music and being reckless. Punk kids, graffiti kids, art kids, hip-hop kids. I would’ve love to go to some of those shows. See Blondie, the Ramones, and Television and Basquiat’s band Grey. That would be rad. 

16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation, or Prozac?


Working out. I’ve been slacking on that lately, letting myself get overwhelmed. I need a new gym membership. 

17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or . . . ?


Phone calls with my mother are essential. That lady keeps me sane.

18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?


City!—with good public transit (I hate driving). New York or Chicago. I’m presently residing in Los Angeles and the transit system gives me panic attacks. 

19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?


I’m sorry dude, you inherited some bullshit. 

20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?


I’m currently working on the live shows with PYYRAMIDS, and writing new songs for future PYYRAMIDS releases and my own solo stuff with one of my favorite producer/musicians Doc McKinney.


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