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Portland band unites indie pop, danceability

Isaac Soper, Arts & Culture Editor
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Volume 45, Issue 24
Arts & Culture

Ninja Turtle Ninja Tiger is an up-and-coming indie dance group in the Portland area, filled with high energy, catchy vocals and great beats to dance or bob your head to. This Friday they will be releasing their first feature-length album, entitled "I'll Find You in the Colors." Dustin Brown (lead vocals, guitar) wrote the album, backed by members Jon West (guitar), Steve Yautz (drums) and James London (keys, bass guitar).

The Clackamas Print: Where did you come up with the name NTNT?

Dustin Brown: I was sitting there one day on my computer kind of spacing out, and it just came to me. I like the sound of it, the way it rolls off my tongue; it doesn't mean anything.

TCP: How long have you been together?

DB: We all met pretty much this year, which is incredible, because we hang out like old friends. Actually, I met Steven almost exactly a year ago, and he was the first member to the band, because I had like three songs that I wanted to start playing out and my buddy Brent was like 'You should just post something on Craigslist.' I'd had horrible experiences on Craigslist, but I did. Steve's from Pennsylvania, he'd just moved out here that week, so he came out and jammed and it was totally amazing. [He was] the first guy that even responded to the ad. And then right after [that], I got fired and I needed someone to help me pay rent in my apartment ... so we became roommates within like a week of knowing each other. Then my buddy Jesse [Kelly] played in the band for a little bit, but then he left to Austin. We got Jon on guitar, and we added James. I met Jon through a short film that [I] actually worked on music for, for my buddy Brent, who told me to put up the ad, and James through the job I got fired from. He recently also got fired from that job.

TCP: Have you put out any EPs?

DB: Sort of, I had a group of three songs that are actually on the album that I released called "Early Demonstrations," seeing just how people responded to the music. It was an experiment sort of.

TCP: How many shows have you done since you've been together?

DB: Just two and one of those was actually a house show. It was kind of a little test run of the band. The next one we played at the Wonder Ballroom that was a huge step up; [it] was a fun show.

TCP: Did you perform any shows prior to this year?

DB: Everything we did in 2011 was with our old guitar player Jesse and we used backing tracks for the keyboard parts, so it was just a three-piece back then.

TCP: What was the hardest part about recording your new CD?

DB: Getting the mix right was tough, because I recorded it all in my apartment's living room. So it wasn't recorded under optimum circumstances, per se. I went out to Nashville and my buddy Ryan — he's a mix engineer and a mastering engineer out there — he helped me with it. Finally we got it where we were happy with it.

TCP: How was recording in your living room?

DB: Not really knowing [my roommates] that well and recording in the living room, it would be like four in the morning and I'd get an idea and just be like belting out a vocal part. Steve was totally cool about it he didn't ever make it awkward or anything.

TCP: What are some of your favorite tracks on the new album?

DB: "The Way Back," it's the first song on the new CD. I love the energy of it. I felt like it was a pretty sweet breakthrough for me, even though it's the first track on the CD, I did it a little bit later. It helped me tie everything together sort of. "Vines, Baby!" was the first one I wrote on this project, it's sentimental. It's like choosing your favorite kid though, you have one, but you don't want to tell anyone.

TCP: What is the message behind your music?

DB: Especially with this album, it's a step of personal growth for me, not just in music, but in life.

TCP: What is the record label you recorded under?

DB: We'll probably eventually sign with a record label, but right now we're pretty much able to get everything done on this level. It's such a great learning experience, doing all the research, reading the books about [recording], you kind of know what you're getting into once you're ready to sign.

TCP: Did you record all of the instruments at the same time?

DB: No, it was all multitrack. I did a lot of programming; I have a MIDI controller so I would just play through parts.

TCP: Is there anything you would have liked to have changed with the album?

DB: Had I known what I know now, I would have probably recorded it not in my living room.

NTNT's debut album "I'll Find You in the Colors" will be released on June 8 at the CD release show at the Someday Lounge in Northwest Portland. The show starts at 8 p.m. and costs $8 and it's 21 and over. They will be going on two tours this summer, starting with one near the end of July, and then another tour in September.

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