Global dance music has never found San Francisco's borders closed, but there's a real sense of adventure in Lemonade that goes beyond passport stamps. As much as our late-night chat gets into dance hall, dub, samba, and grime, all of which the group threads into and reinterprets within the fabric of its music, it's the eccentric elements that take the sound to a mystical level — the distortion, the delay, the exotic beats and ethnic bazaar melodies. Lemonade isn't so much a musical sponge as a kaleidoscope, the experimental scene and club culture reflecting, rotating, and tumbling through its lens in a fractured intercontinental spectrum.

While Steidel's day job at Amoeba Records brings much new music to the trio, Pasternak's wanderlust also keeps Lemonade fresh. Instead of just hearing the latest Diplo comps, he grabs Brazilian music at the source. "I get a lot of CD-Rs from the marketplaces," he says with a grin. "In Rio, that's where I found my favorite baile funk stuff — or in Barcelona, we got a bunch of different stuff from the marketplace, like [music from the] Persian Gulf." As an employee of SkyWest, Pasternak gets his airfare comped, which makes these frequent excursions much easier.

Pasternak, who grew up near Half Moon Bay with Clendenin, studied ethnomusicology in college, focusing on Arab, Jewish, and Brazilian music and spending a year living abroad in Barcelona. The other two band members came to dance music via different destinations — Steidel after having a "techno epiphany," Clendenin after hitting crust punk raves in Barcelona. From the beginning, these ex-hardcore kids gelled by accenting one another's eccentricities.

"If it was up to me, I'd be playing samba all day and be jamming on percussion," says Pasternak. Steidel points at Clendenin and adds, "And he'd be making 1977 keyboard new age." But they balance and inspire one another, trusting that Steidel will keep the songs in check. "Ben has the pop structure down," says Pasternak. "We don't play pop music, but he knows when the end of the hook should be."

That last item is tricky for a group that admittedly doesn't care for the pop paradigm, yet is being rapidly embraced by a dance community eager to make remixes. Lemonade has already been asked for its recordings by DJs hot to craft dance edits and create 12-inches. The problem is that these guys have yet to record beyond a couple songs thrown onto a MySpace page ( They admit that traditional recording methods have proved challenging to a band bent on improv. Nonetheless, they're working on a couple split 7-inches, stoked to be on the freakish fringe of the electronic music continuum. "That's the only scene in San Francisco right now that has anything to it," Clendenin asserts. "The electronic scene is where a lot of people I know from, like, the punk bands and the noise bands are ending up. There's other stuff going on, for sure, [but] a lot of it still seems nostalgic, whereas the electronic thing feels really fresh right now."

He adds that the band isn't interested in joining the conga line for the "post-punk stranglehold on music"; instead, the guys geek out on discussions of things like Sri Lankan vocals, coolie dance rhythms, and Punjabi beats. "America has a pop music enterprise," Clendenin opines, "and the rest of the world, they listen to that, but they're also trading rhythms." He is sure to convey that Lemonade's interest in the international isn't a fad. "[We're] not so much like, 'Wow, listen to their traditional music that they preserved for so many years,'" he explains. "I wanted to hear what the kids in poor neighborhoods were listening to, to either vent their frustrations or to celebrate their culture. Listening to all that stuff was totally inspiring. I never wanted to emulate it; I just wanted to add our own perspective to it. I wanted to be part of that exchange."

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