Picked to Click 2012: #7. Strange Names

Picked to Click 2012: #7. Strange Names
Photo by Chris Heidman
#7. Strange Names: 39 points

Here's something you don't see every day: a band that prefers to do its interviews via conference call.

Well, okay, maybe that's not Strange Names' preference, per se. It's at least in part a matter of necessity, given that the band's chief members, singer Liam Benzvi and guitarist Francis Jimenez, live 1,200 miles apart Ñ one in Brooklyn, the other in Minneapolis. But still, how many bands have a conference line set up in the first place?

"It's a sign of the times," says Jimenez, from his apartment in Loring Park. "It's how you got to be able to do it. [But] we're also very concerned about our artistic integrity. We like to be involved in the process, like to be proactive."

See Also:
Picked to Click 2012: The ballots and complete voter results
Picked to Click 2012: The print edition

Proactive is one way to put it. Brooklyn native Benzvi recalls that when he moved back to New York after studying theater at the U of M, where he befriended Jimenez, he read Don Passman's All You Need to Know About the Music Business. Little surprise, then, that living so far apart, however counterintuitive it may be, is a strategic decision as much as anything -- a chance to get footholds in two different markets, including the biggest one of them all.

"Plane tickets and everything else are more expensive, but it seems to be working okay," Jimenez says of the physical separation. "In the modern age, it's easy to be split up across the country. It feels like you're in the same room, what with the internet, telephones, Skype."

With that said, there's hardly anything detached or calculated about Strange Names' music. "Potential Wife," the obvious single off their new, self-titled EP, is one of the most joyful, exuberant dance numbers to come out of the City of Lakes in the past 12 months. And, with an energetic supporting cast, that vibe carries over to concerts. "We both put a lot of joy into the music we make," says Benzvi. "It's so easy to make recordings you do at home that sound really epic. When we do a live show, we want to maintain that feeling and mood."

Putting out a full-length is the next logical step for Strange Names. Not surprisingly, they already seem to be one step ahead on that front. "We need a little more backing or support as far as funds go," says Benzvi of their upcoming plans. "We've been pursuing certain labels, and we're being pursued by others and whatnot, trying to figure out what's best to do.

"Nothing official yet," he adds, playing coyly. You can almost hear a grin through the phone. "But it's exciting."

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