What is your name? 
Mike Bednarsky: We are Ginkgo Balboa! Ben Masbaum and myself. Thanks for having us.

What is your genre of music?
Mike: We have fun bending the construct of what a “genre” is, but if you had to use a style for, say, an elevator pitch, I’d call us synth pop.

Ben: Yeah, but don’t let the “pop” throw you if you aren’t into that. I like to think we have the tendency to go experimental. We also, as Mike mentioned, tend to bend genres. We have some dance-y songs followed by chill/vaporwave-ish followed by slinky, guitar-driven jazzy rock and such.

Mike: I too like us being experimental in the sense that we’re never boring. But, I’d like to think that we are consistent in our appeal to our fans, too. There has to be a pop sensibility to most, if not all, of our songs to maintain our sound.

Give us a little bio about you.
We met in 2018, came from completely different musical backgrounds that were both antitheses to synth pop, and decided to embark on a career focused on exactly that: synth pop.

Ben: Just to elaborate, Mike comes from a theatre background, and I come from a metal/post-rock/math rock background.

Mike: Well, not just theatre, but yeah, that’s my point. Our backgrounds couldn’t be any more different than synth pop, and yet, that’s what our band is most easily described as. Pretty cool.

What made you go into music?
Music was the bedrock of my family, so it was always there, and taken very, very seriously. I tried to run away from it and form my own path, but that’s because I care about it so deeply. It’s not my only passion, but I cannot imagine my life without music in some capacity, whether listening, creating, or performing.

Ben: I was into music when I was in 1st grade, bouncing around and dancing with my sister while listening to the radio. Then, my dad bought us a Yamaha keyboard, and dug his old reel-to-reel two-track recorder from a dusty closet, taught me how to use it, and from there, I started recording music. Later, my childhood friend started playing guitar and singing. I remember wanting to be in a band so badly that I learned how to play drums. In junior high, my parents bought me a Fostex 4-track cassette recorder, and I never really looked back from producing. 

Who are your influences?
My influences change, all of the time. Right now, I’m vibing on Night Tapes, Lunar Islands, Starrgazy, Pearly Drops, url, Inadelle, and Munan. The new spill tab EP is great, too. It’s called KLEPTO. 

Ben: Early influences include Slint, Radiohead, Ween, the Zombies, the Animals, Hall & Oates, Slayer. Always experimental, metal, math rock, post-rock, then into slightly more electronic/basement producer rock like chill/vaporwave or lo-fi/dance-y hip-hoppy, funky, soulful. Really, just everything. My horizons are more expanded nowadays than they used to be. 

Are you signed?
Mike: No, but we’ve turned down offers before. We haven’t found the right fit, but we’re open to conversations!

You released your new EP ‘Balloon Duty’, tell us more about the single and the meaning behind the EP. 
Mike: Our latest single is “Helena Troy,” which we released on the same day as “Balloon Duty” and features the pop singer who goes by the name morning sun. It’s an uplifting song urging safety and self-preservation, especially of young runaways. Balloon Duty is a sequel to our fun, woozy, self-titled, SoCal vibes, summer debut EP from 2020. But as sequels often do, it pushes the envelope of what listeners expect from us. It’s darker, more introspective, more nuanced in musicianship, but most importantly, still fun to listen to for the general public.

Describe each track in two words.

1. “Tie Me Down” – self-care anthem. 
2. “Helena Troy” – menacing beauty. 
3. “Parasols” – groovy gibberish.
4. “You Decide” – puppy love.
5. “Palm Trees” – summer fling.
6. “SIMF” – friend zone.

What was the writing and recording process like?
Ben: These songs are somewhat an amalgam of music we’ve been working on since the inception of the band. Some of these songs, at first, for whatever reason, just didn’t fit the vibe we were going for off the bat. These songs took a little more finesse, for the most part.  There were a lot of shelving of riffs, re-working and structuring, of most of these songs, before we considered them “Ginkgo ready.” Like all of our music, it starts in the studio. The music is usually written first, then the arrangements, and then vocals/lyrics are done last. All recording is done in my “basement” studio (this is LA, so it’s not a literal basement. It’s actually my living room. I pretty much converted my apartment into a recording studio. 

Mike: And we don’t have a vanity publishing outfit, production company, or anything like that, but if we did/do someday, we’ll probably call it Aisle 19, as a wink to a lyric in our song, “Department Store Chic,” which came out in August 2022. The message of that song sums up our image as a band, and the lyrics are a great example of my modus operandi, so quoting it for our in-house business would totally make sense. 

Who did you work with on the EP?
Musically, we worked with, as Mike mentioned, morning sun (real name Amy Ehrlich) and her amazing voice. Kristopher Keesling as well, who is our show/gig guitarist. He wrote a pretty clutch guitar solo for “You Decide.” Goth pop singer Stephanie Luna Grey recorded the voicemail vocals we used for “SIMF.” That’s it, really. All producing, mixing, and mastering, was done by myself, here in the studio.

Will we see a music video for any of the tracks of ‘Balloon Duty’, and if so, what can we expect from the creative process? 
Mike: No concrete plans as of now, but we’ve had a conversation about it at our last meeting, so who knows? First step would be to agree upon the song, and a shared general idea. Then, we’d hire a team and storyboard it. That’s how we’ve done it in the past.

Do you have any live shows coming up? 
Not currently, but we’ve been on a hiatus from live shows this summer.

Mike: 2023 was a busy year for us, from the start. We had two singles prior to “Balloon Duty,” “Beach with My Lover,” and “Good Night in the Middle of the Day,” the latter of which had an official music video. Then there were a few live shows, plus a five-month “Balloon Duty” press campaign, and a listening party at Benny Boy Brewing, a cool, new brewery in the Lincoln Heights section of Los Angeles. So, in other words, a little stage sabbatical is currently giving us some much-needed wingspan. (Laughs.)

What else can we expect in late 2023?
Perhaps one more studio recording release, but we’re gonna get the live band back together after a short summer hiatus, and start playing out again by the end of 2023.

Where do you see yourself now in 5 Years?
Ben: Madison Square Garden.

Mike: Um, yeah, what he said. I can’t emphasize that enough. As a kid from the Tri-State Area, playing there would mean everything. I believe Mike Naran said something like that when he was the guitarist/vocalist of Panic! at the Disco, and they were headlining at the venue. He and I are both from Shelton, Conn., and the dude got to play at the Garden. That’s so rugged.

What quote or saying do you always stick by?
Two rules I like to live by… “Everything serves a purpose, and for every rule there is at least one exception,” which is to say that not everything serves a purpose, after all. Even that rule has exceptions.

Mike: “Minds are like parachutes. They only function when they are open.” It’s from a fortune cookie I got at a Chinese restaurant like 5 years ago. I’ve kept the fortune on my fridge ever since.

When you are at a gig, what are 5 things you cannot forget?
 Mike: Balaclavas and headbands are my signature clothing accessory, and usually I’ll wear one of those to the show for sound check, and then change into a different one for the show itself. I like to start a show with fresh clothing, even if it’s all going to get sweaty by the end anyway. Oh, and one cool band thing? All 5 of us have tiger eye bracelets that the aforementioned singer, morning sun, had made for us. If one of us forgets to wear his bracelet to a rehearsal or show, he’ll receive bad luck for generations. Kidding—but we’ll certainly call him out on it. 

Do you have social media accounts so your fans can follow you?
: @ginkgobalboaband on all platforms!

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