Text & Interview: Alec Coiro
It is often remarked that a performer is “truly unique” or “defies genre.” In fact, these things are so often remarked that the descriptions become diluted, and when a performer like No Bra comes along who is doing something altogether original it’s difficult to fully convey that to the reader.
No Bra’s backing music spans several styles; I’ve seen the costumes compared to Iggy Pop, but they seem to me totally without precedent; the lyrical style that is not only completely original but often very funny and poignant.
No Bra played Secret Project Robot in March 16th, and Olimpia Dior captured it. We followed up with an interview.
Olimpia, captured some marvelous video of your performance of “Munchausen,” and I notice that you change the lyrics for Munchausen. How extensively are the lyrics adapted and changed? Is it just based on where you’re performing? And how much do those changes happen in the moment?
I only change them for geography, eg Kokon To Zai which might be less known in New York becomes the L-train or Topshop becomes Opening Ceremony. Sometimes if i see someone in the audience who has relevance to the lyrics i try to include them, for example someone who is or was in a well known or semi well known band. They are really just small changes and i don’t pre-plan them.
Given that Munchausen is a dialog, how has the meaning of that song and the experience of performing it changed now that you’re doing it solo?
It hasn’t really changed, I’m just playing two people with really similar personalities.
Olimpia’s photographs show you getting into a costume of thigh-high platform boots, a jockstrap, and a mustache. Can you tell us about the costume and the persona that goes with it?
Really fruity gay man who likes it rough but also likes a bit of posh. He also tries to embrace his feminine side.
A lot of my songs are inspired by real people or myself or things i've experienced but of course i merge things to give it a broader meaning.
As you point out in the song “Date With The Devil,” your songs aren’t exactly songs, per se (although “Date With The Devil” does wind up having a particularly song-like chorus). What is your approach to songwriting? So many of your songs seem very character-driven? Does the inspiration for the song begin with an imagined character?
That’s actually supposed to be a joke – it’s a fictitious conversation between two guys where there is an underlying sense of competitiveness. So they’re trying to subtly say that whatever they’re doing is better than what the other guy is doing.
It’s not supposed to be a reference to No Bra, and as you point out they are songs. It’s only these two songs you mention that have a conversation, all other songs have more of a regular lyrical structure.
A lot of my songs are inspired by real people or myself or things i’ve experienced but of course i merge things to give it a broader meaning. Actually every song is different so it’s a bit difficult to go into.
Because your songs are so character-driven and often involve dialog, they can often seem cinematic or novelistic. Do you work or write in other media outside of No Bra?
Yeah i used to be a filmmaker before doing No Bra and also make music videos.