Dicso Bunny is the solo project of Melvin Butel (The Seizure).
Dedicated toward moving bottoms as well as minds, Dicso Bunny’s fusion of Latino dance music and unashamed homage to house is a mashup of different flavors and sounds—all created with old, near-obsolete rhythm machines and keyboard samplers.
I talked to Melvin about his theatrical background, the origins of the project, and….Liza Minnelli?
Band name: Dicso Bunny
Place of Origin: Hollywood, circa 2007
Band Member(s): Melvin Butel
Next show: This Monday night at Pehrspace, with Daniel Francis Doyle, Amir Coyle, Cruddy and—just added—Soloing Over Alanis Morissette
Where’d the name Dicso Bunny come from?
It was an idea that came from Born in East L.A., which is a Cheech Marin Film. I have the sample here:
Cheech: Yeah, I knew some girls from El Salvador but they were all disco bunnies.
Counter girl: What is this dicso bunny?
Cheech: Disco Bunnies. Girls you meet in discos, you buy them a drink, you end up driving them all over L.A. in your useless car.
What feel do you try to go for with Dicso Bunny?
I basically wanted to do freestyle—what’s been called disco bunny, Cha cha, Hair Bear music. You know? Debbie Deb, Angelina, Stacy Q, Stevie B. Dance music for me is a cornerstone to everything I do musically, even with the Seizure, my other band. With them, even the basslines I play maintain some sort of dance feel. Althought right now I’m in between freestyle and old school house music. Anything that was on Strictly Rhythm or groups like Bizarre Inc, Deee-lite, Clubland—stuff like that. But Dicso Bunny is a freestyle, house, quebradita menudo or pozole if you don’t like beef tripe.
How’d it all start?
I started off doing this thing with this Ginuwine song, ’cause I got this Casio SP10 sampling keyboard and from there I just kinda did this… [sings “YEAH!” into the sampler; proceeds to play and sing Ginuwine’s Pony over a simple beat]. This and Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love,” which is sung in Spanish, are the only cover songs I have in my set. “Siento Tu Amor” has a Mexican banda beat mixed in. Ha-ha, yeeaah!
What’s your live show like, then?
For the most part, I do stuff in Spanish and English. I pre-program this Roland MC 505 which lets me bring parts in and out as I want. It’s old. This is an old piece too—this Roland SP-808; it even has a zip drive. Nobody uses that anymore, so it’s kinda inconvenient. It’s cool, though, I can still trigger samples using the pads on it. I haven’t even gotten into doing live keyboard playing, ‘cause it’s too complicated to do it all at the same time. I could program it all so it just goes, but then there’s no improvisation. It’s better to tweak it live, or else I’m just up there singing—which I don’t mind, it’s just not as fun if I can’t drop beats in when I want to. You can’t have the beautiful mistakes.
What’s your personal background?
I have a theater background; I went to school at S.F. State. I did the La Raza Studies thing. I was doing a lot of Latino theatre, and touring shows. I had my day/night job working backstage for musicals at big theatres. Then I moved down here and I started up all over again. Hanging out at Sean Carnage’s Monday night at Pehrspace really inspired me to bring out Dicso Bunny and start performing. This is the one chance where I can combine everything. I can combine the theatre, I can combine the Latino cultural reference…and, you know, dance culture—how Latinos have gravitated and used dance music. Well, dance music is part of every culture, but Latinos have latched onto certain details of it, like the freestyle sound—it doesn’t go away. It’s a staple of every lowrider car show across the nation.
What would you say is the theatrical aspect of Dicso Bunny then?
For me, I don’t know whether I consciously keep that in mind when I perform. I’d like to think that when I perform, I try to act the song out a bit more, with a bit more of a Cabaret-ish bent to it. I worked the Liza Minnelli show in San Francisco at the Orpheum and oddly enough I was really impressed by how she would perform her songs. She really acted out the song with her face, I don’t know. Looked like she felt it.
I’m here to entertain. I’m not really there to be crafting these important songs. All my songs are bubblegum candy stuff. There’s some seriousness to it, but it’s really more to entertain my friends than anything.
What do you see yourself doing in the future?
I don’t know. I guess the best thing to do is to continue performing out of the enjoyment of performing. I mean, I get sick of the songs I write too; they wear on me. So that pushes me to write new stuff, or experiment on some dance groove I heard. But it’s more for kicks, ‘cause, y’know, it’s like one step THIS close to being karaoke—you what I’m sayin’? [Laughs] THIS close—I could fall off the cliff you know? So if I don’t watch out I could just become a mockery of myself. But I embrace it. I know that it’s all for fun. I don’t mind playing the clown. You’ll always have a friend wearing big red shoes.
Directed by ELLA//OHARU
Videography by Eduardo
And don’t miss Dicso Bunny this Monday
Plus special guests
and the return of
Soloing Over Alanis Morissette
Starts 9:30pm / $5 / all-ages
Pehrspace—325 Glendale Blvd., in Historic Filipinotown
See you there!
Image: Kyle Mabson