Planet Booty wants you to know that they’re not just a joke band. Even though they don skimpy sailor costumes and write songs about — who would’ve thought — booties, they are taking their sound in a more serious direction come June 2, when their second full-length album, Future Sweat, drops. Their performance at Oakland Drops Beats on Saturday is the first leg of promotion for Planet Booty’s summer tour and album release.
Planet Booty independently released its first, self-titled album out of Oakland in 2009. The blend of funk, soul, R&B and electronic has manifested into ridiculous, yet gyrate-worthy, tunes. Given the levity of the band’s subject matter (see: “Das Booty”), it immediately strikes listeners as a parody band that throws a wild rumpus and that will have you boogie the funk out of your rear with their bass claps.
But don’t misunderstand Planet Booty. The band has created its own self-positive and sex-positive philosophy called the “Booty” ethos. Frontman Dylan Germick, 30, said every person’s style is unique, regardless of race or sexual preference.
Speaking with The Daily Californian at Cloyne Court, Germick noted that capital-B “Booty” is an abstraction. “Booty is sort of an all-encompassing term, like the Force.” He theorizes that Booty is a one-size-fits-all symbol for the silly, the sexy and the awareness of yourself and others. He dismantles idealization by claiming that the archetypal “Booty” is your own.
In anticipation of potential claims of objectification, Germick insists that the Booty ethos is all-inclusive and ungendered. “That’s why I wear my little, skinny outfits,” said the self-proclaimed awkward, skinny white boy whose stage name is Soul Booty #1. “I am Booty as much as anyone is Booty.” The band’s idea of body acceptance is important, because it reclaims what on the surface sounds like sexual objectification present in a lot of modern hip-hop and inverts that meaning into something more positive.
Germick’s name sounds like a slurred version of the word “gimmick.” It’s fitting enough, given the theatrics of the group’s music videos and the omnipresence of the Booty. “That’s not how I am in everyday life, but it comes from a place where I don’t think I’m someone else,” he said. “It’s just a synthesis of all the things I love coming together.”
Germick notes the complexities of getting the band’s name out, however. “Our name is Planet Booty, so people think they get it,” he said. When the band was formed, he didn’t care about image, he said. “But at the same time, it’s hard to market yourself for people to give you a chance.”
The upside of humor is that “the smile is the easiest way to break someone,” Germick declared. But he also notes that humor can constrain a band’s capacity for reaching audiences if they get stuck as “one-note.” He cites Frank Zappa as an example of a wacky-yet-meticulous musician. “He constructed these orchestras, but then he’d make a fart noise,” he said. “It’s just about finding that balance.” Germick reiterated the saying that musicians fancy themselves as comedians, and comedians fancy themselves as musicians. “Humor is like music,” he claimed. “It’s rhythm, and it’s timing.”
With the imminent release of Future Sweat, Germick finds Planet Booty developing in a more serious direction. “Now, it’s coming out in more palatable sounds and themes,” he said. “We’re sort of toning down pushing that element (of humor) out and showing that it just comes out anyway.” The band is more focused on becoming better songwriters. “I wanna make a song that people will listen to over and over again,” he said.
The band’s unique approach to sound is echoed in its live show. “I like to think we’re leading this charge of electronic music meets live instrumentation,” he said. He compared silent disco, where people collectively dance to music on their own headphones, to a Diplo concert as having the same “press play” effect where crowds are used to artists merely standing while onstage.
“Nothing blows you away more and nothing disappoints you more than a performance,” he said. Come Saturday, you can expect body rolls, rump shakin’ and sparkly costumes. Planet Booty is still backin’ it up while thrusting forward in a new direction.