With DIY ethos, minimal equipment, and, yes, a lot of time, Portland's Billygoat creates the most magnificent worlds. Full of glorious imperfection, the group's stop motion films shine like a beacon of warm light in a world of cold plastic. Using only a cheap point-and-shoot digital camera, found objects, handmade props, a printer and lights, David Klein and Nick Woolley hand-craft a dreamscape that they then perform live soundtracks to. Billygoat's all-instrumental sound is a perfect match for the eerie animations. Switching between an arsenal instruments, the duo creates a living, breathing and moving piece of art that changes with each performance.
A few days ago, I had the pleasure of talking with David and Nick outside their garage/practice space/animation studio. They made me a delicious rum and thyme-based concoction (aptly named “Once Upon a Thyme”), and we sat down to talk.
Kat: What is your favorite Dennis Hopper movie?
Nick Woolley: You know what's funny about Dennis Hopper? We do know his son. We were playing a show and we met him—this was on LA and he was on mushrooms. Then we were at the Ace Hotel [here in town] and he walked in and we were like “What the hell are you doing here?” I guess he was in town because he's in the new Gus Van Sant movie and—
Wait a second. Back up. What'd you say? Dennis Hopper was on mushrooms?
NW: No, no, no. His son was.
David Klein: Easy Rider
. That's my answer. Easy Rider
NW: That's the only one I know. What other movies has he been in?
DK: Blue Velvet
NW: I never saw Blue Velvet
What's your least favorite new technology?
DK: Hmm. That's a good one. (Long pause).
NW: Oh! Segways!
NW: I fucking hate those things.
Best Halloween costume?
NW: Oh, I'm going to have to answer this one for David, because David always has these doozies and every year he won't tell me what he is until it's actually Halloween. But one year he came out and he was an iron claw machine.
DK: I was a teddy bear. Trapped in a claw machine.
NW: It was really, really good. Watching him maneuver around a party in this gigantic cardboard box…
DK: Some drunk guy pushed me and I was like “Why'd you push me?” And he was like, “Cause you're in a box. I had to.” He was cool about it, but—I was like “I guess that's cool.' It's kind of like being on the corner dressed up as a big chicken. Someone's is bound to punch you. You know it's going to happen.
Could you operate the claw?
DK: No, but there was a little joystick on the cardboard box and everyone was coming up and playing with it.
NW: And he had all these stuffed animals that he made pinned to him everywhere. He just kind of gave them out to different people that night. One year I went as the Land-O-Lakes butter girl.
DK: That was really good, too.
NW: You guys know the trick where you cut out the butter girl and then fold her knees up and then you X-Acto knife the butter and you lift it up and it looks like her boobs.
No. (I didn't.)
NW: I actually had it where I lifted up the Land-O-Lakes thing, it was a picture of my knees.
DK: But it looked like he had hairy boobs. Yeah. Really good.
NW: But I was really bummed because I was so proud of this costume and literally two people the entire night knew what I was. I just looked like a weird Indian.
Unicorn or Pegasus?
DK: Pegasus. Definitely. Although, Rainbow Unicorn Attack—I don't know if anyone saw that on the Adult Swim video games. It's pretty good.
NW: Oh come on. Everytime the Tri-Star pegasus comes up you're always like “Ahhh.”
DK: Yeah, I know. As a kid I was like, “Rewind. Play. Rewind. Play. Rewind. Here it comes again.” My family used to laugh at me for that.
NW: David, that's probably your root. Your gay root.
Name the first band you ever played in.
NW: Mine was called “Fagging the Playboy.” Yeah,“fagging” as a verb. I was playing with this dude and he was very straight and I was very much in love with him. He was the playboy. I was trying to fag him a little bit. My mom loved that shirt…
DK: Do I have to?
You don't have to…
DK: No I will…
NW: Yeah, I want to know.
DK: I think it's Ivory Lee Hooker and the Sad Clowns.
NW: Sad clowns…I thought it was just Ivory Lee Hooker.
DK: No, it was Ivory Lee Hooker and the Sad Clowns.
That's pretty awesome. What's your power animal?
DK: I have a few. It's like a totem pole. Flying squirrel. Dart frog. And—I don't really like koala bears, but I feel…spiritually connected to them, so them, too.
NW: We were koala bears last year for Halloween.
DK: That was pretty good.
NW: People were like “What are you?” and then we'd hug.
DK: We had little beer cozies with eucalyptus coming out of them.
NW: I'd say mine would be an elephant and a rat. Those are my two favorite animals.
DK: Isn't that a contradiction. Aren't elephants terrified of rats?
NW: That kind of makes more sense, though, really…
Funniest porn title you've ever seen…
DK: Edward Penishands
. Also funniest porn I've ever seen.
NW: I guess this isn't a good “name,” per say, but there was this one based on Pinocchio
. The girls would be having sex with him and they'd be like “Lie to me Pinocchio!” because it would make his penis bigger. “Lie, Pinocchio! Lie!”
Sunny Beach or Green Mountian?
NW: Green mountain.
NW: I've had a lot of sunny beach in my life, so—I really do like the beach a lot.
Would you want to have a water source next to your green mountain, like a river or pond?
NW: I'd be into a lake—
NW: A waterfall going into a lake that leads to a river.
If you won the lottery, what's the first thing you would buy?
NW: I think I'd give it all to my mom and let her delegate where everything goes. That's always been my one wish whenever I make a wish in a tunnel; I always wish for my mom to win the lottery. I trust her out of anyone to do the right thing
Favorite American city?
NW: I'd say Portland.
DK: Yeah, Portland.
NW: I love Tahoe, it's a nice city to visit, but, yeah, Portland, for sure.
DK: Estes Park, Colorado, as well.
Least favorite piercing?
NW: That we've had, or…
K: No, just in general, the one that you see and you're like, “Oh God…”
DK: Tongue. I think tongue at this point. It's like, “Really? Still?”
NW: Or eyebrow. Eyebrow's still pretty bad.
DK: Yeah if they have like a green bead in them or something…
NW: I had a labret piercing. That was pretty bad.
DK: …or like the blue titanium.
NW: Black light reactive.
DK: Yeah. A black light reactive tongue ring. That's my final answer.
WATCH, LISTEN, LEARN: Billygoat will be playing at Rotture as part of the free PDX Pop Now series. They play inside on Sunday, August 1st at 5:30pm.
IMDB page for Edward Penishands
Images courtesy of Kat Gardiner and Billygoat.