by Ilona Slama May, 14 2017
High school sweethearts Spooki and Ashi met when they were only 16 years old and are two of the visionaries behind everyone's favorite DIY venue Non Plus Ultra. Their band, HOTT MT, is releasing a new record in May. “Alternate Universe” is captivating and allows the listener to explore different cultures and travel through each song. The cartoon pop duo sat with us and gave us a glimpse on the process behind their new record.
POST SHOOT INTERVIEW WITH HOTT MT
Ilona Slama: When and how did you guys meet?
Spooki: We met in a homeschool high school program.
Ashi: [laughs] It was a really nerdy situation. Nick was living in Whittier and I was living in Orange County with my parents, we were about 16 years old. I thought he was the first cute guy that I had seen in my whole high school time so I went and talked to him. [laughs]
Ilona: When and how did you decide to form HOTT MT?
Spooki: That happened much later.
Ashi: I was studying painting in college and Nick had been in several bands and was pretty successful with that. After school I got lost in what I wanted to do and how I wanted to express myself, and Nick was always bringing up playing music together so we decided to give it a shot. Figuring things out was pretty hard at first, but it was fun to be able to explore something new and also be very fresh at it.
Spooki: Yeah, I think it was fresh for both of us because we were so obsessed with Thai culture and Thai music at that time, and I had never played it before. It sort of formed around that.
Ilona: Who else is in the band? Why are they not here today?
Ashi: We’ve been going through a lot of transition right now, we’ve scaled back to a duo.
Spooki: The band has always been morphing.
Ashi: It’s always been the two of us, but for example, our keyboard player that we have been playing with might be deported, and a couple of other members have been on tour. It’s that point where we know that we can keep going with it and we want to. We don’t want to be held back by scheduling anymore, so we decided to just move forward right now as a duo, and then in the future we can bring the same people back in.
Spooki: We’ve worked on this record for so long, we wanted to make sure that the mixes were the best as possible, not glossy or too clean but perfect for us and for the songs.
Ilona: Can you please tell us about the origin of the band name HOTT MT?
Ashi: It stands for Hour of the Time Majesty Twelve. I remember sitting on my bed in my room and Spooky ran in with a laptop and showed me this majesty twelve document and the URL read http://www.hourofthetime.com/majestyt.htm And I thought it looked like a great name. The majesty twelve conspiracy is about the fabrication of aliens and impending alien attack that would be used to unite the world under one government.
Ilona: What is your writing and recording process like?
Ashi: The first record we wrote together, just the two of us, and the second one we wanted to include everybody. This was about three years ago, we had friends and roommates coming in on the recordings including Nick Ventura who wrote a couple of really memorable guitar lines.
Spooki: We also wrote one of the songs with Grant our old roommate who used to be in the band. So there are a lot more elements of collaboration on this one. We had our friend Josh who also helped finish the recording and played drums on one of the songs. Garrett played drums as well and helped contribute his feel to the songs, and Lionel played drums on one song. Everybody that played on it put their fingerprints and their style.
Ashi: Spooki is really prolific with writing parts, we ended up with 72 parts and I love combining things, so we went through those and started to collage everything together.
Ilona: How would you describe the overall sound of the new record?
Spooki: There’s real drums, which we haven’t always had before so there’s an energy to it and there’s also some medieval influences on it, things that take place in a fantasy landscape.
Ashi: It’s pretty complex, it’s a lot longer than our other album.
Ilona: What influenced the new album?
Spooki: In terms of influences and feelings, the album is influenced by medieval court music and fantasy soundtracks. Lyrically, it's an autobiographical fantasy that embellishes our life over the past few years. While we were writing this album, we were re-reading Micheal Ende's novel "The Never Ending Story". We became obsessed with the book and discovered Ende's family was connected to Rudolf Steiner and the Anthroposophy movement. Even though Ende didn't consider the novel to be about Anthroposophy, we thought that the book beautifully expressed the idea that developing and truly knowing yourself leads to spiritual experience and fulfillment. In the same way, we decided that we wanted to make an album of self-examination that was equally as fantastic.
Ilona: What do you hope people take from the record?
Spooki: I hope people like it, and I hope it just becomes on of those records that people put on this summer and it will remind them how good it is to be alive.
Ashi: I want it to be a comforting thing. When listening to the album, it feels comforting. It’s honest and I like to be honest. I think there’s a realness that comes through in it, and I would want to make people feel okay with being as human as they are and experience the fullness of everything.
Ilona: What can we expect from the band in the future?
Spooki: We have lot of videos coming out for the album, we were able to make some videos that we are really proud of. We have been given a lot of opportunities in film and production, and have had the chance to work on some very interesting shows and pilots while making our own content. We plan on developing that side of our practice while finishing up the 3rd album and will possibly be pitching a pilot of our own. We also have tour plans for later in the year.
Ashi: We want to get out of the U.S.and spread our music around a little bit.
What’s your damage?
Ashi: I would say our damage is that have not been able to find nor maintain an affordable and permanent location that allows us to work less and create more. We had our first warehouse, FootClanHQ (Naud), in Chinatown that got bought by property development people in 2014, which forced us to relocate and re-start. Now it's Non Plus Ultra's turn to go thru the ringer. But we are resilient and love what we do so we'll press on but it's still difficult to keep having to re-form ourselves in a new environment all the time.