Portland Musicians Corner – Interview with DIE ROBOT

It was in December, two years ago, that I first saw Die Robot live. That day was my “back then guitarist” George’s birthday, and my boyfriend and I decided to go celebrate  with him at the Lovecraft. We didn’t know who was playing that night or anything. Little did we know that we were going to be in for a treat!

Hearing the first beat and the first note, I already knew that I would love this band. The rhythms are like a musical aerobic workout, and the sounds like a surge of soul energizing force. Let me tell you, it is impossible to stand still and not move to this music. Die Robot will put up a show that pleases all the senses. A great light show sets the mood, and the electro industrial, techno punk, music works its magic to one’s body and soul. If that’s not enough, band members Barbie Saint (bass/vocals), Vince Christian (lead vocals), Angela Halo (drums) and John Case (Synth/FX) will make sure you have a good time, just by looking at their energy.

Needless to say we all had a great time that night, and we saw a very memorable show. I’ve been a Die Robot fan since.

Q: Thank you so much guys for taking your time to do this interview with me! I am thrilled to know more about your band and share it with the Freeform Portland readers. I have seen you live, I have listened to most of your songs, and I also played your music on my Dark Noise Radio show. Each time I wonder, how did they come up with that name? And how did this band come into existence?

BARBIE: Vince and I have been in different bands since high school. He is from Miami and I’m from Buenos Aires, Argentina. In 2003 I moved to the States and we met in North Miami Beach. We started talking music, and I think we became bandmates that day. I remember listening to his songs and thinking, I’d like to make music with this guy. In between, I had a meeting with this guy from Universal Latino with my songs and first solo recordings, and the guy told me “we can make you the next Shakira.” I was like “what the fuck, did you even listen to my music?” The rest is history. I didn’t sell out, haha! In 2005, Vince and I formed Pop Dolls, which was a synth pop/mod rock duo. We released a few albums under that name: Nova, Made in Plastic, and B-Trak Models. We have approximately 90 songs recorded together.

In 2012, we moved to Portland with the desire for a harder, more industrial sound. As we grew musically, we decided to change the name of the band. The name Die Robot came about while watching the Alien movie. During the part that Ripley is fighting the android, Ash, I screamed at the screen: “Die Robot!”

Q: Some musicians were born into music because parents or siblings were musicians. Some musicians were kind of “made” to take lessons from early on. Some musicians developed interest as kids, or later in life. What is your story, how did you end up in the world of musicians?

BARBIE: My dad is a singer/songwriter and he has an international tango show with an orchestra and dancers, and he goes on tour all over South America. He recorded me for the first time at the age of two, singing “Chiquitita” by ABBA (laughs). I bought my first guitar at 17 and I took some lessons, but it was boring. I wanted to play though, so I’m pretty much self-taught. I formed my first all-girl band back in Buenos Aires, then I met Pablo, my first guitar player and co-songwriter and we formed The Others. That was my first serious band. We did a few tours. I remember being the only girl in the bus with 15 dudes touring a big chunk of South America.

ANGIE: My father is a drummer, singer, songwriter, and producer, so I’ve been around music my whole life. He sang in a band called RPM in the early 80’s. Unfortunately, the band didn’t take off commercially, so he devoted his time to songwriting and producing. He’s worked with the late Carl Wilson, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Peter Wolf, Celine Dion, and more. So as you can see he was, and is, a huge influence. I really didn’t find my instrument until my early twenties. A friend had a drum set he wasn’t using so I taught myself how to play. My first band was called Shadow Den. We were a goth rock band. We played locally in Nashville.

After that, i was in an all-girl punk band called Pop Roxy, with my sister Robin on bass. After that band, i focused my attention on college mostly. I moved to Portland in 1999, but I didn’t meet Barbie and Vince until 2013 . I met Barbie one night at a club . She found out I played drums and said, “You will be our drummer!” How could i refuse? Ha ha!

Q: Your band has performed numerous times in the Pacific Northwest and has many upcoming shows this year in the region. Are there any other goals planned for this year?

Barbie: We’ll be releasing our full length album called Technopunk. During the west coast tour, it will available only on USB Key. The album will have nine songs including two covers, “Order of Death” by PIL and a live version of “Lucretia” by Sisters of Mercy, that we played at the Star Theater for Hive. It also includes three remixes and it will come with some of the stems so our listeners can remix the songs as well. By PIG Fest 3, it will be available digitally, and on compact disc and vinyl. There are also plans for a few shows in LA.

Q: I know last year you shared the stage with Stabbing Westward, and also performed with several other big names. Can you recall your experience the first time you played a show with a well known musician?

BARBIE: Dude, we love Stabbing Westward so much, I’d like to think that we are band friends since that show. We also played with John 5 (Rob Zombie) and he was an amazing human as well. He came out of the backstage area to watch us soundcheck and loved it. He also complimented me on my Retro Mechanical Labs pedal board and my bi-amping. And well, Vince Clarke! I almost lost my shit as I grew up listening to Depeche Mode and Erasure. We were loading in, and Vince Clarke came out. We smoked a cig together and talked about the war between Argentina and England, and music. We talked lots of music. He is such a real dude. It was an amazing honor to share the stage with him.

ANGIE: The first time, it was with Vince Clark and David J of Bauhaus. I was definitely star struck. I consider them both as living legends. David J even gave me his seat in the venue. It was something else to be in the presence of people whose music I’d been listening to for over twenty years!

Q: I’m always interested to hear some crazy/interesting stories that happened on stage or on tour. Do you have any of those you’d like to share? I’m talking about those OMG moments: too funny, too crazy, or never again?

ANGIE: Well, one time we had a gig at the Lovecraft bar. It was a cold night, so my gear also got cold. Inside the Lovecraft they placed me directly under the heater. During the second to the last song I hit my ride cymbal and whoop!, it turned inside out. I guess it was caused through going from the extreme cold to the heat.

BARBIE: Ha Ha! Too many to mention. Our shows are full of energy and stuff happening around us all the time.

Q: What does a regular week look like in the Die Robot world? Do you lyrics reflect your experiences from daily life? Where do those words come from?

BARBIE: Vince and I both work at Retro Mechanical Labs, so we are continuously in a music studio environment, testing pedals and just fucking around with equipment. We love it! We rehearse at Bridge City Sessions twice a week with Angie. Sometimes we have other musicians jam out with the three of us.

The lyrics do reflect our experiences. Most of them are about our time travellings, parallel universes, and the aliens and robots we meet. Vince and I write the music and the lyrics. I always like to say, he is the best, not only as a person, but the best musician I’ve ever known. It’s an honor to work with him.

Q: I have one more question. What is your biggest wish as a band? I mean big.

BARBIE: We’d like to tour the world.

ANGIE: I’m with Barbie. To travel the world!

Thank you so much for calming our curiosity! This was just a little taste, a teaser if you will, about the band Die Robot. If you are still curious to know more about them, listen to their music or even catch them at a live show, you can follow them on Facebook or on their website. There will be many shows coming up this year, stay tuned!

DJ Sonic Szilvi, a European native, joined the Portland music scene a few years ago, currently playing bass for two active bands and one on hiatus. She recently joined the Freeform Portland family as a DJ. Sonic Szilvi hosts the weekly show Dark Noise Radio