Two songs from "Volume 1"

Bisco Mondal, cover
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Interview with Bisco Mondal

Julian Goldberger: Who is your favorite celebrity chef and why?

Bisco Mondal: Anthony Bourdain. One of our friends is a food critic here in Honolulu, and he got to take A.B. to a local style breakfast. Me and my wife met him during filming. He seemed real down to earth, and full of spam. I like him because he looks at the big picture, the roots of cuisine. He also seems to favor simple peasant foods, which tend to make the best meals.

Are you affiliated with the masons or do you have any connection to stone masonry?

I am personally not a mason though I skate past the masonic lodge sometimes and imagine a deep delving Hogwarts-type basement. My great grandfather on my mom's side was a mason.

My Grandfather on my father's side was a stone mason, and brick layer. He loved to draw too. He had genuine artistic talent, though he had to quit school in the eighth grade to help support the family. He survived the battle of Iwo Jima and died at the age of 63, never really getting to retire.

Stonework is similar to songwriting in that it's a visionary activity, You have to be fairly intuitive about choosing and placing the right odd shaped pieces together to form a unified whole.

How often do you play your guitar and wonder what another guitar might feel like?

Allot . . .

Do you like being Italian?

Yes. That's something I've come to appreciate with age. There is an intensity that comes with being Italian that's hard to explain. A love of life, family, and friends, that often leads to some sort of outburst, and then there is the abundance of ear and back hair.

If you could swap places with another gender, what gender would that be?

Maybe something like what a soft coral or anemone is working with. Something that just multiples itself all day. I'd probably be more focused. But I'd still have to be Italian of course!

Do you sometimes feel like your songs are being written by a distant relative or ghost?

Not so much here in Hawaii, but back in Brooklyn and with Big On Sleep in general you could say I wrote some songs in a receptive mental space that seemed more like automatic writing. You can't convince someone who's skeptical of paranormal activity or that the spiritual possession of one's authorship is possible, but sometimes the songs that seem to write themselves quickly seem later to hold some polarized Mana or pervasive energy, be it dark or light.

If you could share the stage with somebody, who would it be?

John Prine.

Has anyone ever said that they have had sex to one of your songs? If so, which one? If not, is that something you'd want to happen more frequently?

Not that I know of, but if you have to it's OK. It's better than someone doing something negative to my music. A song is like a letter, it's out of your hands once you give it to the mailman.

Any advice for an aspiring singer/songwriter?

Don't feel too bad when you realize that you are not Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, or Joni Mitchell, or Canadian for that matter. Each artist is suspect to their own place in time and history. Learn as much as you can about the people who you consider influences, who they were influenced by, and so on till you arrive at the root of it all. Once you come to grips with your own state of being, you may feel more compelled to explore and write about YOUR world. By and large your audience should appreciate your honest voice over your best impression. Collaborate and surround yourself with the most talented people you can find.


Posted September 2010

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