It wouldn't be a stretch to say the boys of Rap have a mean case of retrophilia. One of their main musical inspirations is the 1989 NES game Ninja Gaiden. Keytars are essential at every show. Both Brandon Bethancourt and Hari Ziznewski wear large aviators, vintage Reebok shirts and nylon track pants—even when not performing. And for their first album release, they're going pure plastic with the classic white cassette tape.
Better dig your Walkman out of the closet.
While Rap's chronic retrophilia dominates their stylistic choices, their music is really all about the future. The sound, the beeps, the disco beat, the electronic noise.
"It's the future," Ziznewski says. "It doesn't really make any sense not to be interested in the future."
Bethancourt and Ziznewski both play a variety of instruments outside of the electronic realm—accordion, clarinet, singing saw, guitar—but keyboards and synthesizers are the only tools they use to make Rap music.
"We made a conscious decision when we started this band," Ziznewski says. "We sat down and said, 'Let's make a statement; let's start a band that has no guitars. And not just that—only keyboards. And not just that—four or five.'"
More like 14 or 15. The corner of Rap's studio space—a small room with short ceilings in Ziznewski's basement apartment—is piled with keyboards. Three keyboard stands line the walls, amps stacked beside them with keytars leaning against their black mesh. Bethancourt says he wants to write a song using all of them, but playing it live might pose a problem.
"A lot of electronic groups just play pre-recorded stuff," Bethancourt says. "We're actually playing the music." When Rap plays their 15-keyboard song live, they'll have a lot of guest artists on stage, he says.
For the release of their first album, Bethancourt and Ziznewski gave into their retrophilia and decided to produce a cassette tape instead of the more common (and likely cheaper) option of the CD.
"By selling only cassette tapes, we want to bring back a universal revival of boomboxing-ness in the world," Bethancourt says. And if you don't have a boombox, well, you're just going to have to get one.
"The kind of people that are going to enjoy our music are gonna think it's awesome we're doing a tape," Ziznewski says. "It's not about ease—it's the whole thing ... the performance art of our lives."