Dance on with a ‘pretty good’ band

Pretty Good Dance Moves is an electropop band similar to Postal Service and Sally Shapiro. The band was formed in 2007 when Jimmy Gianopolis and Aaron Allieta were bartending together in Chicago. I had a chance to talk with Gianopolis about the beginnings of the band, their performance on KEXP (a radio station in Seattle), and their ties to Bjorn Yttling from Peter, Bjorn and John (PB&J) and what’s in store for their future.

Q: How did you guys meet up and form Pretty Good Dance Moves?

A: We are old friends. Aaron had a ton of old vintage synthesizers and keyboards and actually lived below a recording studio. I picked up a few drum machines and learned how to use them. Together we started making music. I really wanted to get some female vocals on our tracks so I called my friend [Genevieve Schatz] and she brought it.

Q: How did the name Pretty Good Dance Moves come about?

A: We started making music just for kicks and wanted a name that was "Pretty Good." So we came up with Pretty Good Dance Moves. Originally, I think our intentions were to make basement thumping, electro screaming, punk anthems. It didn’t exactly end up quite there.

Q: Why not name yourselves Really Good Dance Moves? Do you feel that there is value in being modest about your fancy footwork?

A: To be honest I don’t think either of us can really dance without trampling those around us. However, Aaron thinks he is a good dancer.

Q: Your sound is a great combination between beats, pleasing melodies and heartfelt lyrics that are on par with fine work by artists like Dntel and Sally Shapiro. Who inspires you to make beautiful music?

A: We are huge fans of Kraftwerk, Album Leaf and bands like that. Aaron and I both have a pretty thick collection of deep cuts that we enjoy regularly. I do like Jimmy Tamborello and what he does with Dntel.

Q: Bjorn from PB&J appears on your newest track "Leave Me Alone" how did you get him in on the track? Is it true that he also plays keyboards in the band?

A: [Laughs] He does not play keyboards in the band, but he has a bunch of his band’s gear stashed at my place here in Brooklyn and I did do a little tracking with his Casiotone MT-68. I ended up buying one off of eBay for 50 bucks! I met Bjorn a few years back in some basement bar in the East Village. We liked each others music I guess, we talked about collaborating together. About six months later I sent him some tracks and "Leave Me Alone" was cut.

Q: Your video for "Demons Dancing" looks like it was a blast to put together, what was the process of making that video like?

A: Kristen [Schaal of "Flight of the Concords" fame] dug the track so I asked her to be in the music video, that was the easy part. Nick was the hard one to convince. I saw him at some dive having some sort of dance off, it was weird, it was amazing! I told him I was shooting a video in a few weeks and asked him if he would be in it, he responded by saying; "I don’t do videos, sorry." It took a little convincing and a few beers for him to say yes but he agreed to do it. We’re buds now. They were both a blast to work with. I remember it was really hot out and I had to catch a flight about three hours after we all met up to shoot it. We shot it in about two. I have tons of great footage that didn’t make the video, super funny stuff!

Q: Do you guys get out and DJ at clubs? If so, what’s the most enjoyable aspect of doing that?

A: We do actually. People pay us to play tunes we like, it’s amazing! We have DJ’d opening for bands that we dig like Crystal Castles and Raveonettes. It’s definitely a perk, getting to spin at rad clubs.

Q: Your live show on KEXP was compelling with all kinds of electronic and organic (Flute!) eclectic bells and whistles, are you planning a tour anytime soon?

A: Oh man! I flew in to Chicago a few nights before we did that and we had never performed live before, never even practiced really. The flute was a little joke between all of us, kind of like "let’s see if we can pull this off!" Our live set is a lot different now but that was really fun and nerve wrecking! We plan on touring in the near future, we love playing for boys and girls.

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