Review Fix chats with Evan Zwisler, Mason Taub from The Values, to find out all about their creative process, origin and goals.
Review Fix: How did the band form?
Mason: when I first met Evan, he was already working on what would become The Values. We started dating and it was clear that I would be an asset to the band, but Evan was a bit hesitant because we were seeing each other and didn’t want to mess things up between us. Three and a half years later, we’re still together and still making music as a duo!
Review Fix: How did you get involved in music?
Mason: When I was five I asked for piano lessons. That was it! I just knew that music was something I wanted in my life, it was kind of freaky. I remember writing my first song at 6, just trying to mimic what I was hearing on 1990s radio stations.
Evan: I remember wandering into a used record store when I was 12 and listening to London Calling for the first time. That amazing cover drew me in and those songs changed my life forever. I played in some bands I’m highly school. We weren’t great, in fact we weren’t even good, but I loved playing music so much it didn’t matter.
Review Fix: What’s your creative process like?
Mason: I write most of the lyrics, so sometimes I come to Evan with an idea somewhat formed and then we build it in Ableton. Other times we just want to work on something new because it’s fun without any idea of what it should be, so we find a cool sample or funky bass line and go from there. Each song has its own process.
Evan: We either start with a lyrical idea or concept or some sort of melody or cool sound on the synth. Then we will try to write a cool groove or dancey beat that will get people moving. We try to strike a balance between emotional sincerity booty shaking beats .
Review Fix: What inspires you?
Mason: Random things. A weathered face on the train. The orange glow of a streetlight. Someone being vulnerable with me.
Evan: recently, I’ve been really trying to listen to people. I feel that if I open myself up our songs have a level of relatability that I’m proud of.
Review Fix: What makes this EP special?
Mason: The originals on this EP both deal with different kinds of anxiety. “Imposter,” the title track, is about Imposter Syndrome – feeling like you’re actually a fraud in everything you try to do and that someone is going to find you out eventually. “Dust” is about the self-destructive force that I feel every human has inside them. The need to disappear or cease to exist that we indulge with substances or video games or food, whatever. For me that impulse is tied to an overactive brain that’s in constant need of stimulation and can lead to all kinds of anxieties and self-doubt. Making music, and electronic music especially, helps scratch that itch for me and sort of brings me down from that ledge.
Evan: Mason explained it perfectly. I’ve never been more proud of anything we put out.
Review Fix: What’s the standout track on this EP?
Mason: I’d say the title track, “Imposter.” Oliver Ignatius at Holy Fang did such a beautiful job on helping us shape the soundscape of the song. It’s probably the recording I’m most proud of thus far in our career.
Review Fix: What’s on your musical bucket list?
Mason: Share the ultimate catharsis with a crowd of a thousand people. Write a song that makes my family cry. Resurrect Prince and work on an album together.
Evan: I want to play a show and at the end of the show I catch the eye of an older guy at the back of the crowd. It’s Bruce Springsteen. He give me a nod as we end our set as if to say, “you’re the next great American songwriter.” He then gives me his guitar and shakes my hand and invites me to dinner and we become great friends.
I’d also like to play more music festivals.
Review Fix: How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you?
Mason: We tend to put ourselves under the umbrella of synth pop, but there’s a ton of other genres that finds its way in there, from funk to 80s throwback power ballads to punk rock. Since I’m responsible for most of the content of our songs we also tend to be very queer- and female-centric.
Evan: LCD Soundsystem meets Cyndi Lauper.
Review Fix: How are your live shows different from your studio work?
Mason: Our live show is very high energy and visually stimulating. We interact a lot with the audience and rarely pause during the set. So when we go into the studio we have to find ways to inject the recordings with that same energy, and that can happen in a variety of ways depending on the song.
Review Fix: What are your goals for the rest of 2018?
Mason: We’re booked up through the rest of the year, so I just want to be able to relax and enjoy whatever we’re doing. When you’re constantly hustling it’s easy to forget that you’re already living your dream and to just enjoy yourself!
Evan: We have a show at city winery with the amazing Pinc Louds on the seventh of December!!!
Review Fix: What’s next?
Mason: We’re getting back in the studio in December, which is super exciting. We love the process of recording and we love Holy Fang where we record all of our tracks. I also want to keep challenging ourselves as songwriters – I don’t think I’ll ever be done learning.
Review Fix: Anything else you’d like to add?
Mason: Go listen to “Imposter” and support your local music scene! Be curious about music in your city.
Evan: If you know someone in a band make sure to support them by going to see them play and buying their merch! The small things can mean so much.