The only band ever to play the Louvre.
Nervous Cabaret sound like a band consisting of soft-hearted werewolves, steam-powered drumming machines and trained apes on the horn. They create throaty, blurred soundscapes which it's all too easy to get lost in. The band's based in New York City, but they're more than robust enough be house band in some sleazy Balkan tavern, playing to hordes of leering, vomiting sailors. The sextet boasts two drummers, heart-stopping bass, soaring horns and the sort of vocals that the West End would love if they didn't smoke twenty a day. In 2007 second album, Drop Drop, followed up on their eponymous debut.
Dazed Digital: Describe your style.
Elyas Khan [frontman]: Adventurous, bawdy, exploratory rock & roll with a sense of humor, depravity with a few cunning stunts thrown in for good measure!
DD: Favourite piece of equipment?
EK: The Neutron - vintage 1974 octaver pedal which I just got through a friend of mine. I am using it for everything right now, from my drum machine to my guitar. Its got great clear thick low end - way surpasses the whammy pedal that everyone seems to be using these days. It's taken me 10 years to find this thing! In music geek terms, this shit's fucking awesome.
DD: Musical hero?
EK: Robert Wyatt. He's been consistently exploring his craft for the last 35-40 years with magical results. A truly unique artist with one of the most distinctive vocals I've ever heard. It's kind of impossible for me to have only one hero so Moondog also has to be in that list. He was a vanguard composer from New York. This greybeard Viking back in the day was found playing on the streets outside his record label - much to the chagrin of the execs in the building. He dressed like some kind of Viking Shaman and produced some of the most joyful, playful and profound music. Tom Waits is sitting right there beside Robert and Moondog. This guy just keeps getting better. It's always an event when he releases something. And of course Diamanda Galas. She is a sheer force of nature that has to be seen to be believed.
DD: Personal highlight of last year?
EK: Having Nervous Cabaret's European CD release at the Louvre. I am not sure it gets any better than being the only rock act ever to be invited to play the Louvre. It was a gorgeous day - unbelievable! We played in the Jardin des Tuileries and were treated like honored guests. My family showed up and surprised me. They've rarely had the chance to see me play music and they flew over from the US for this concert. This was not only one of the highlights of my year, but probably of my entire life.
DD: What do you want to achieve in 2008?
EK: Nervous Cabaret will continue touring Europe. Seeing as I was born and raised in London I've always wanted to go back and share this music with people in the UK. I'd like to try and make that happen. There are several projects that are already underway for 2008. One is composing music for two animated films (Quasimodo, and American Frankenstein) with one of my old creative partners Eric Novak. I will also be recording a song for the next Book of Knots album (Anti records). I am going to Berlin to write new material for Nervous Cabaret and for my solo release. We're planning to hit the festival circuit in Europe this summer, it's always a blast.