New York based shinnichi Danz Johnson released her first COMPUTER MAGIC album ‘Scientific Experience’ as a Japanese only release in 2012.

While the enjoyably escapist ‘Obscure But Visible’ EP from 2016 was possibly one of her best bodies of work to date, her most recent long player simply titled ‘Danz’ is her possibly her darkest offering yet.

The album’s best track ‘Ordinary Life (Message From an A.I. Girlfriend)’ offers some bright synth passages over a classic Linn Drum derived template. It’s a twist to Philip K. Dick’s ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ where Artificial Intelligence has allowed a robot to aspire to more than just being a love companion.

The song has now been accorded a jaw dropping video directed by Anise Mariko and produced by Ivan Wong, where our heroine explores feminism and finds empowerment in a symbolic transformation from house maid to belt bondage princess within a neon lit backdrop.

Danz Johnson took time out of her schedule to have a quick chat with The Electricity Club about the latest COMPUTER MAGIC audio visual presentation and how the world needs to dress up more…

What’s the concept behind ‘Ordinary Life (Message From an A.I. Girlfriend)’ as a song?

I was watching a bunch of TED talks about artificial intelligence, watched a little video on these new holographic girlfriends in Japan that live in a little tube. I thought – what if in the future, there are very human like robot girlfriends, that clean, cook, bake, do everything for their “master” without question or an individual thought of their own, like the girl in the tube – but life size and tangible! What if someday they become self-aware and start thinking for themselves. Like a robot girlfriend rebellion. But not in a terminator way, very more light-hearted than that; I think it’s shown in the lyrics. They are just yearning for more in life to experience.

Such a song cries out for a video, so how did you come up with the concept and the messages you wanted to convey, especially empowerment through bondage?

The director Anise and I came up with the concept together. I knew I wanted two strong parallels. I told her about what the song meant to me, the lyrics, and she came up with an amazing concept that really fits the song.

She knew the designer Creepy Yeeha and we got to use one of her outfits, which was such a dream.

Creepy Yeeha has outfitted FKA TWIGS, RIHANNA, and CARDI B. So yeah, I felt pretty invincible in that outfit, although, I still had to do tequila shots to get through the ‘sexy’ scenes, not my forte being used to oversized flight suits! my friend Maureen Goodman who makes handmade bags under Atomic Freedom made the classic maid outfit from scratch. We had a really great team.

Even though technically I am meant to be portraying a human-like robot girlfriend in rebellion, there are many parallels that can be drawn between this character and a human woman in general. Being rebellious and breaking free from the old school box woman are placed in will always be somewhat of a struggle.

There’s this inherent feeling that a woman must be dainty, have their makeup done perfectly, cook, tidy, be perfect mothers, be there for their husbands. Little girls are given Barbies, Baby Dolls and Easy Bake ovens and everything in pink. I can’t stand that. I grew up as a tomboy that played with frogs and had the Metal Moulder instead of the Easy Bake Oven.

Obviously this idea of what a woman needs to be has changed tremendously over the years, women are starting to get equal pay, they’re engineers, they’re astronauts.

It’s coming along, though I still notice in conversation with men sometimes, especially men that don’t know what I’m capable of (producing, mixing, mastering all on my own), I’m talked down to. It’s frustrating of course.

The video has got a very 1950s vibe with a futuristic twist in my opinion and the topic is important. To make a long story short, sometimes you just want to rebel! And that’s what the bondage represents, to me anyway, rebelling!

With rope bondage like Kinbaku and Shibari considered art forms in Japan, did that influence your thinking at all?

Of course those art forms are beautiful to me. I wish we used more ropes! It’s a form of expression. That may have played a role in the direction of the video, and I’m sure that was maybe on the mood board, although Anise would probably be better to answer this question!

Costumes and outfits have been very much part of COMPUTER MAGIC from the start, should we loosen up in the West and cosplay more?

I love cosplay! I love wearing colorful wigs, dressing up for shows, being someone else. For Halloween a couple years ago, I was Chun-Li, that was so fun. I’m so self-conscious that it really helps for me to become someone else. More cosplay please!

‘Danz’ is a far darker album than its predecessor ‘Davos’, which appears to reflect the socio-political mood in the US at the moment?

It is a little darker, because of my state of mind at the time. I was dealing with a lot of self-esteem issues. ‘Amnesia’ and ‘Data’ specifically about not knowing who I was anymore, they all give me a good kind of melancholy feeling. ‘Perfect Game’ and ‘Ordinary Life’ are pretty upbeat, though. ‘Delirium’ was especially political, one of the lyrics goes “the president has lost his mind”, it’s about not following the masses, too.

Probably one of my most experimental records to date, I make a lot of strong statements here in ‘Danz’, it’s less pop than ‘Davos’.


The Electricity Club gives its warmest thanks to COMPUTER MAGIC

Additional thanks to mikineko productions

‘Danz’ is released by Channel 9 Records in digital formats worldwide, limited green vinyl LP edition is available from http://www.channel9records.com

COMPUTER MAGIC plays Guadalupe Inn in Brooklyn on Monday 14th May 2018

http://www.thecomputermagic.com/

https://www.facebook.com/computermagic/

https://twitter.com/zdanz

https://www.instagram.com/danz_cm/

http://www.mikineko.com


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
1st May 2018