Within the jam-packed, diverse lineup of Miami’s III Points festival, we found a real gem on the Sector 3 Stage: Donzii.
This Miami based post-punk quartet combines their charm with their dark side to bring audiences a must-see act with front-woman Jenna Balfe’s poetic lyrics and dancing with music by Dennis Fuller, Danny Heinze, Monroe Getz, and Miles Hancock. I had the pleasure of meeting Jenna and Dennis on Day 3 to chat about their experience shaping their no-wave sound.
Front-woman Jenna Balfe shared their story:
How did Donzii come together?
Donzii first came together in 2013 in our friend Doug Weber’s dilapidated mansion in a part of Miami called Pinecrest. Dennis and Doug had a project called Foot Music that was very demented and driven by drum machines. Dennis invited me to come and try to sing over the tracks and that’s when the sparks flew. We all stayed up laughing and playing basketball super late that night. Which led us to our first song: “Playing Basketball At Night”. After this Dennis and I moved to New York and continued to work on the project up there.
What drives you to make music?
For Dennis, it has been his passion since he was a child. He has been playing instruments since he was 10 years old. It was just what made sense for him. I had a bit of a troubled up bringing and was not able to take classes or lessons and poetry became her outlet. When I was 20 years old my father was on his death bed and he told me that I should try to sing my poems.
What’s it like making music in Miami in comparison to Brooklyn?
In Miami we have space and ease in a way that we never could have in New York. We are able to have a music studio here, that we don’t have to share with like 6 or 8 other bands. This allows us to stay as long as we want in the studio and take breaks to go to the beach whenever we want. It’s less stressful here.
Is there something you want your audiences to feel at your shows?
We want people to feel connected to each other. We want them to feel like dancing and open to understand and experience one another. We also want them to feel something different, we are trying to provide them with a musical experience that is honest and that speaks to our weirdness and musical taste’s.
How does your dancing fit into your style?
My dancing is a driving force in my language capabilities. When life and it’s anxieties, complexities and passions become road blocks, I use movement to re-find my path and eventually bring the melody to a song.
How was your experience playing alongside artists like John Maus at III Points?
We all have always been huge fans of his music. Seeing him live and having the opportunity to meet him was a game changer for us. He creates a cyclic loop of energy through his performance with the audience. He surely is going through a catharsis on the stage, but it is not closed… He is letting us see the insides of a very focused, sensitive and aware man. It inspired me to re-evaluate what I am sending out through these waves of sound to people, it made me think about how my own energy is attached to the sound as it travels out. I asked myself, “is what I’m giving what I am receiving back?” We were very moved by John.
What does it feel like to be on the Boiler Room mural?
We actually had no idea that we were to be painted on that mural. So it was shocking! It was a wonderful feeling and an honor to be recognized along with other amazing Miami acts. Brian Butler is the artist and he has been documenting the scene with passion for almost a decade!
Is there anything in the works we can look out for?
Yes! We are working on our next release as we speak. It is scheduled to be out in the world by May 2019. There are some more surprises in the works for this year as well. We are trying to keep it weird dark and true.
Photos by Max Rykov