Episode

Episode 31: Dots and Lines

 Hello magical friends! Especially Anna Maria, the newest member of the WZRD Radio Patreon, whose support lets me do these episodes.

Today I’m talking to another Yes All Witches alum, Zoe Bentley from Dots and Lines! They’re a newer band, but already a huge part of the community. I can’t wait to dive in and learn some more about them!

But, of course, we’re starting with some music.

Here’s How Airplanes Fly with “Time Turner.”

~*~

That was “Time Turner” by How Airplanes Fly, Harry and the Potters with “Save Ginny Weasley” [lyrics], “Wizards Who Died” by Remus and the Lupins, and “Keep it Alive” by The Potterwatch Project [lyrics].

“Time Turner” was a special request from WZRD’s darling patron Geoff, who adds “To Avery: I hope you don’t mind that I’m dedicating your own song to you, but your lyrics are the lyrics of my soul!”

And now, here’s Zoe of Dots and Lines.

It’s time to welcome Zoe to the show. Hi!

Zoe: Hello! It’s good to be here.

It’s good to have you on. I like to start with the basics. Tell us about your history with wizard rock.

Zoe: All right. Well, I first heard about wizard rock long before I got really into it. I heard about Harry and the Potters when I was a kid and I went to one of their shows at a library. I only made it through about half a song because they are very loud and I was even more noise sensitive then than I am now, but I grabbed a couple little CDs and I liked listening to those for a little bit. It was many years later that I learned that wizard rock is a bigger genre than just Harry and the Potters. And a friend of mine in college introduced me to Tonks and the Aurors, and I heard her Charlie Weasley song and from then on, I was hooked in properly and I got into listening to way more artists and it was… well, I was hooked.

And then it was 2019 when I first made my own song. I hadn’t been listening to wizard rock for more than…I think it was earlier that year that I started getting into it properly. And I heard one of the Samplers—I listened to the Wizard Rock Sampler from the previous year, and that was what got me inspired to actually do music myself, make wrock myself. I heard this huge variety of sounds, huge variety of experience levels… You could tell that some people were like amazing quality and some people were just going for it and if I was going to be doing wrock, I was going to be one of those people who was just going for it with absolutely no level of quality, just having fun and if there were other people who were at that level and were just out there, then I could be too. So I started with the 2019 Wizard Rock Sampler—that has my very first recorded song of anything on it. And from there, I just sort of kept going.

Have you been to any shows since, or do you prefer albums and pre-recorded music?

Zoe: I’ve really enjoyed the virtual shows that we’ve had this past year and a half or so. I’ve absolutely loved attending the Online Wrock Live, the OWLFest shows. I still have some backlog that I wasn’t able to hear, and I’m still really looking forward to watching those and some of the Tonks shows and Ashley Hamel… It’s been really great to have that connection with other artists who I wouldn’t necessarily be able to see due to either distance or volume and I have that connection sort of made for me by the internet. And I absolutely love it.

I live in a little bit of a wizard rock wasteland as well, and I agree being able to watch it online is just a game changer.

Zoe: It’s been wonderful.

So your band has an unusual name because many wizard rock bands are easily identifiable as wizard rock; Tonks and the Aurors, Harry and the Potters, Snidget… but Dots and Lines. Where did that come from?

Zoe: Yes. Yes. Well, part of the decision was I actually wanted to have a name that wasn’t specifically Harry Potter. I wanted to be open to writing about other topics as well. And I already have a couple of other songs out there that are not Harry Potter. I’ve got some about other fiction and some muggle songs, and I want to add even more different worlds to it. But I did consider that; I… I spent a lot of time thinking about if it were going to be Harry Potter related, what would it be? But I never reached any conclusions there because I decided I wanted to open it up, no limitations.

And I eventually decided that I wanted to do a bit of a tribute to music that I really love. It’s actually a line from a song. And what I did is I took all my favorite little bits of lines and quotes from songs by the band They Might Be Giants, who are probably my favorite band of all time. I’ve been really into them since I was itty-bitty. So I had this huge long list of songs—I was almost Sleeping In The Flower—and I eventually came up with… this was my number one favorite line—Dots and Lines is from the songs, “See the Constellation.” And that is a song that I would actually really like to do my own cover of because I used it to study for a geology test. I sang basically the entire geologic timescale to this tune of “See the Constellation.” It probably makes no sense anymore and I can’t remember how to do it, but I want to figure it out again.

Another thing about this is being a line from They Might Be Giants makes it a huge long chain of references that goes all the way back to Don Quixote, because They Might Be Giants takes their name from a movie called They Might Be Giants, which is taken from the concept of tilting at windmills that they may be giants and therefore you attack them if you are Don Quixote. So I kind of enjoy that. it goes back hundreds of years through very weird references.

So what is the whole line that Dot and Lines comes from?

Zoe: Uh, let’s see, [singing] “see the constellation and ride across the sky / no cigar, no lady on his arm just a guy made of dots and lines, just a guy made of dots and lines

Easier to remember if I sing it.

That’s very cool. Very evocative. I hope you do remember your, ah, geological era version.

Zoe: Yeah. I’ll have to figure it out sometime.

Aside from study aids, how do you pick the subjects you sing about? I know you’ve done at least one about Quidditch, Charlie….

Zoe: Yes. Most of my songs are parodies and what fits the meter of the song is what determines what I sing about. I’ll be listening to something and a line will just pop into my head. Like, I’ve got one when I was listening to…I think it was actually the movie version of “Angel Eyes” by Abba—I think it was the one in one of the Mamma Mia movies—and it just popped into my head to make that “Yellow Eyes” and make it something about the basilisk, so that’s something in my drafts. It just sort of comes like that for most of them, but not all of them. A couple of my songs are actually original songs and those… one or two of them just popped into my head pretty much fully formed. I don’t understand it, but I’ll take it. And the others were things that I just really wanted to sing about, I wanted to put out in the world, like “Great Hall Bats.” Bats are one of my favorite things in the entire world. And I just wanted to have something about them.

You mentioned that in the, uh, ‘Pedia interview, I think with—with Paul Thomas, there was a whole bat conversation.

Zoe: Yes, yes.

Related to subjects- I think you, like, Lauren Fairweather are branching out into other magical universes.

Zoe: That’s right. I am, yes. I am writing songs about the Simon Snow novels by Rainbow Rowell. So there’s Carry On, there’s Wayward Son, and there’s—just released—Anyway the Wind Blows. And those are basically, if you take the idea of fan fiction and you make it this long string of references, because what I’m doing is fan music about books inspired by fictional fan fiction from within another novel. And it is itself, in the novel, fanfiction of a book series that is almost, but not quite, Harry Potter and also slightly Twilight. So it is a huge chain of references again, which I kind of find… just fun to work with. And it’s also been a series that I’ve just been really enjoying lately. I’ve been wanting to write music about more different series than just Harry Potter, so that’s part of it. But also I feel like this world has a magic system that is perfect for my style of songwriting, where I’m basically just putting together other things that already exist.

Like I said, I do mostly parodies and it’s based on what sort of feels like it fits together already, that just is calling to be made. And the magic system in the Simon Snow books is based around language and plays on words and that’s something that comes really easily to me. Any sort of funny phrases or sayings where you’re not quite sure where it comes from or the literal meaning would just be something really interesting to work with. That’s the basis of the magic system. That, and the way that language changes over time and that’s something I find really fascinating so I’m really wanting to just play with that concept. And I’m wanting to make this be basically the wizard rock of a different series. I’m calling it mage rock, and I would be absolutely thrilled if anyone else wanted to make some.

Maybe you should start a Sampler.

Zoe: Ooh, I like that.

Especially with the new book having, just come out.

Zoe: Yes. If anyone else wants to make mage rock, let me know and I can compile everything together.

Now you can’t pick Simon and Baz, but my patrons want to know who is your OTP—or OT3… And if you were to write a song about them, what would you call it?

Zoe: Ooh, this is a tough question. I’m not sure I actually have any in Harry Potter. There are several pairings that I find interesting and I like hearing songs about. I almost did a cover of a Neville/Luna song by Tiana and the Cliffhangers, but then I ended up going with the travel song instead, because I love those. I find it hard to pick favorite couples generally, but there are a couple examples from mystery shows, actually, that I really love. I’ve been really invested in the relationship between Dr. Ogden and Detective Murdoch on Murdoch Mysteries. And I have no idea what I would call a song about them; I just have to keep my mind open and see if anything pops in. But maybe my favorite couple of all time is Adrian and Trudy Monk from the show Monk, even though we don’t get to see very much of them as a couple, but I know what I would call a song about them. It would be “Bread and Butter.”

Interesting. I don’t know a lot about Monk, so why would that be the title?

Zoe: So, that is a phrase that is kind of a connection between the two of them. It’s something that Trudy would say when they were walking down the street, holding hands and something came between them and they had to let go. It was her way of saying ‘we have to let go for now, but we’ll come back together.’

That’s really cool. You have a knack for picking out phrases that evoke a lot more.

Zoe: Thank you.

So if not necessarily an OTP, what would be your dream thing to write a song about in wizard rock?

Zoe: I really love how wizard rock is kind of making its own universe. Like everyone agrees that Charlie and Tonks dated, even though that was never in the books or the movies. I’d kind of like to write a song about Charlie’s side of that. Figuring out that, you know, ‘Tonks is great, but dating is not.’ I’d really like to write about that.

I look forward to hearing that one day, maybe the, uh, 2022 Sampler.

Zoe: Maybe.

Its time for our first music break. First up we’ve got Samantha Lin and “Last Sacrifice.”

~*~

That was “Last Sacrifice (Snape’s Song)” by Samantha Lin [lyrics], Dots and Lines singing “Dragons (Charlie’s Song)” [lyrics], Obliviate! with “Revenge (of the Best Kind)” [lyrics], and Penelope Clearwater Revival with “Patronus for the Day” [lyrics].

Now back to the interview.

You were a 2020 recipient of the Yes All Witches grant. We’ve had Steph on tell us a little bit about it, and we’ve heard from Totally Knuts on their experience. Tell us what it was like for you.

Zoe: Yeah. When I applied for Yes All Witches I didn’t think that I would be chosen. I sent in something thinking “well, what’s the harm? Might as well see what happens, right?” And I was absolutely thrilled to be chosen because, well, for one thing I wasn’t expecting it, so that’s always a nice surprise, but also because that meant I had access to advice. And as someone who’s really new to music in general, that was at least as valuable as the monetary aspect. So I was able to get help from Steph with not only purchasing, but choosing the microphone that I have now and editing software that I have been using all the time. It’s made a huge difference to the quality of my work and also it’s been a boost to me personally, because it feels great to a) be recognized and b) have a little bit of help and advice from someone more experienced. That just makes it all a little bit easier and less intimidating.

And what did you do to apply? Do you send in a voice clip, did you email? Did you write a dissertation?

Zoe: So the, Yes All Witches grant application is free form format. You can send in whatever you want to send in. I chose to make a song for it, which was basically a parody, again, about basically who I want to be as a person and as a musician. And I also made a slide show to go with it that’s basically various important parts of myself as a creator. I parodied the song “Captain Kirk” by Bob Schneider and I made it all about the Harry Potter characters who I do or do not want to be like. And I had a bunch of photos of me in Harry Potter related situations and other fan things and also with me taking other photos. So me with the camera a whole bunch because that’s another part of me as a creator is I like to take photographs. So that’s part of how I’ve been releasing my music, actually, is… most of my songs have come with a lyric video. It’s not very fancy, but it’s an opportunity to have a slight visual element and something else that I make.

So you would say that Yes All Witches is a worthwhile thing for a new person to enter?

Zoe: Absolutely. And even if you don’t think that you’ll be chosen, please, do go for it. Whatever the opportunity might be it doesn’t hurt to put yourself out there a little bit. It’s a little bit scary, yes, but you could get a lot out of it.

A lot of the folks that I’ve had on the show so far are old hands at wizard rock; they’ve been doing it for years or a decade. Being newer to the scene, creating music at least, what advice would you have for someone else thinking about getting into it?

Zoe: My advice to someone who’s thinking about getting into wizard rock would be ‘put your things out there.’ Put your creations out there. It’s kind of intimidating to see how much already exists and also how good some of these people are, but the point of wizard rock is to create and share with other people who love some of the same things and I’ve seen that in the community. Everyone is incredibly supportive and they just want to see people making cool things, even if it’s not any particular style or quality or anything like that. It can be anything, just you putting out there, whatever it is you have, just having fun. So just put out something, anything that you’ve gotten have fun with it.

What about something really practical, like ‘always use this tool when you’re editing’ or ‘make a pillow fort.’

Zoe: That’s the sort of advice that I’m still looking to take, ao I don’t have very much of it yet. Um, one thing though that I would say is: whenever you are recording audio or video, leave space at the beginning and the end for editing purposes. Leave space because it’s easier to cut out gaps than it is to add gaps in and I have found in editing that is a real challenge that is much better avoided by just leaving a few extra seconds.

I think that’ll be good to know. I like getting the practical stuff as well, because we do get a lot of encouragement, but sometimes you just need a little bit of a boost on hitting play for the first time.

Zoe: Oh yeah. Also I’m realizing that I have left very few spaces in my speaking during the interview. So, sorry and good luck!

No worries. So you’ve talked a little bit about mage rock in general and a couple of things you’re working on in wizard rock. What is next for you? What do you have coming up?

Zoe: Right now I’m working on a song for the second Hut on the Wrock compilation. That’s going to be pub songs and it’s again organized by TK of Totally Knuts and I’m trying my best to write Odo the Hero, which if you remember is one of the few songs that canonically exists in the Harry Potter universe. And it has a couple of lines and I’m working them in and I’m trying to figure out what goes with them. I’ve never written a song quite like this before so wish me luck.

Oh, I’m excited for that!

Zoe: I’m also working on some more parodies. I have it in my head to make the song “The Bonnie Ship the Diamond” be something about Star Trek. I’m thinking Deep Space Nine. That’s all I have though, I have zero lines written for this, it’s just something I really want to do.

You really cover a lot of fandom territory.

Zoe: Oh yeah. I really want to do more scifi in particular.

You mentioned Deep Space Nine. Anything else?

Zoe: I want to do a lot of different Star Trek things. I also want to do something Next Generation…probably my favorite character is Data so something there, may be something about Spot… I’m just totally going off the top of my head here. Basically anything that I have enjoyed reading or watching may or may not come up.

At least some of your songs are camp songs like you used ”Barges” for “Charlie,” and I think later we’re going to be hearing one. Is that from camp experience? Were you a Scout? Are you looking these up? Where do they come from?

Zoe: Yes. I went to Girl Scout camp a couple of years as a teenager and then later was a camp counselor at a Girl Scout camp in Arizona and one of the things that I loved about that environment is how much music there was. All the mealtimes and other times between, and campfires… I loved singing all the time and a lot of those specific songs have stuck with me as really beautiful or really fun. And I want to do something with that.

Hopefully I will be able to incorporate other singers so that I get a proper summer camp feeling with more than just my own voice. And I’d really love to make a compilation along the lines of Hut on the Wrock, or maybe someone else will help me out with that. We’ll see.

Are you looking for singers currently?

Zoe: Right now I mostly have things on my plate that are not necessarily looking for other singers, but I will be looking for other people in the future for sure.

It’s time for our final music break, starting with Luna (not) Lovegood and “Slytherin Anthem.”

~*~

That was “Slytherin Anthem” by Luna (not) Lovegood, “ENTER THICKNESSE” by Alas Earwax! Featuring Ludo Badd Man [lyrics], and “Owl Post Strike” by The Owl Post and the Mudbloods.

And we’re back with Dots and Lines.

Thank you so much for chatting with me today. This has been wonderful. Where can WZRD’s listeners find you and your music online?

Zoe: I post most of my songs on my YouTube channel which is just my name, Zoe Bentley, and I also have a Facebook page for Dots and Lines. I also have a few songs in other places. There’s one on the first Hut on the Wrock compilation. There’s one in the first of the, uh, what…. what were they called?

The ‘Pedia Comp Club?

Zoe: Yes. Thank you. I have one song on the first ‘Pedia Comp Club album, the “Back to the Beginning,” and I also have songs on the 2019, 2020 and upcoming 2021 Wizard Rock Samplers. I’m also going to have a song on the next Hut on the Wrock compilation, and I’m very much looking forward to that.

And do you have a BandCamp for the full collection of your music?

Zoe: I do not currently have a BandCamp. This is one of my ‘make this happen soon’ goals for myself.

Well I look forward to that.

Congratulations to Susannah, the first non-patron, and Jen, the first patron, to guess episode 30’s theme of “Remus Lupin.” I’ve still got a couple “Out of the Binary” download codes up for grabs, so get ready to guess when episode 32 goes live.

Don’t forget, magical friends! If you heard a song and thought “I could listen to that some more,” then visit the transcript—at our new URL!—WZRDRadioPod.com and follow the link to buy it. You get a great new song and support a wizard rocker. Without them, we wouldn’t be here.

If you’ve got a couple spare muggle dollars a month and want to support WZRD Radio, consider becoming a patron at Patreon.com/WZRDRadioPod. For two muggle dollars a month you can support WZRD Radio and  Yes All Witches, the program Tonks and the Aurors run to help more queer and BIPoC folks break into wizard rock. In fact, my incredible patrons just funded the next year of Yes All Witches grants and I couldn’t be more stoked and proud.

And if you want to say hi or tell me about your favorite Simon Snow headcanon, WZRD Radio is on  TwitterInstagram, and Facebook at WZRDRadioPod. If you’re taking a break from social media you can leave a comment on the transcript or email me at WZRDRadioPod@gmail.com.

And now, it’s Dots and Lines!

Intro and outro music are from Higher Up, by Shane Ivers.
Art is by graphic_co on fiverr.

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