Seven Questions with Iska Dhaaf


Iska Dhaaf (Nathan Quiroga and Benjamin Verdoes) seems to output pure and substantial brilliance. It’s only been out of a lack of personal ambition that we haven’t written about them sooner. Possibly, we didn’t have the time and energy to honestly discuss their efforts with the diligence that it is due and deserves. Luckily for us (and for you), the universe provided the opportunity to meet these cats, enjoy a nice ginger ale on National Beer Day, and discuss their thoughtful creative pursuits.

They just wrapped up a West Coast Tour around their debut album “Even the Sun Will Burn,” and after witnessing their live performance at their LP release show at Neumos this March, there’s no doubt they returned to Seattle with a significantly larger fan base.


1. As a band, what’s your biggest point of contention?
Benjamin:  That’s a great opening question, Jesus Christ… That’s actually really funny, we don’t really disagree about much. It’s surprising. The closest we’ve come is over lyrics, not agreeing if something is a good fit or not. We play every day and we’re exploring this thing together, so it’s hard to disagree when you’re chartering this new territory. There’s a lot of people who come in with this shit they’re trying to have someone else play or make someone else do but for us we’re just trying to be as open as possible to make something that’s reflective and beautiful.
2. What would you be doing if you weren’t playing music? 
Nathan: Well I was doing theater before this, that’s what I went to school for. So I might be doing theater still or working in film or writing books or plays or scripts. But typically, whatever it is, it would have to be something I deeply, deeply struggled with on a day-to-day basis and never left me with any real contentment, but promised I would have a sort of validation of myself through that struggle. Whatever it may be, as long as I could go through that process, I would be happy. 
Benjamin: I think I would be writing poetry and short stories. Maybe even attempt a novel. I would also travel a lot, it’d be easier to save money if I wasn’t an artist. I would study languages, maybe pick an academic discipline and get a PHD. 
3. What would your first book be called?
Benjamin:  I have one that I will write, but I don’t know what it will be called. I just know that one day I will write a book about my little brother and the process of raising him. I always think it’s like “My Life with Marshal.” That’s a really corny title, but something like that. 
Nathan:  I have one title, it’s either going to be for a book or a record, and it’s going to be called “People are the Worst Animals.” There’s also one that I had thought of today when I was down at the market and it’s called “Nice Things Attract Ugly People.”
4. How do you like to relax? 
Benjamin:  I’m not very good at relaxing. In general I don’t do it. Reading is probably the closest thing to it. 
Nathan:  I have a ritual that I do every morning, or at least that I hope to do every morning – I go to a small coffee shop and I get a coffee. Well, a mocha, it’s not really a coffee. It’s sweet and a good little treat for myself right off the bat. Then I read and I have a dictionary open on my phone and any time I come across a word I don’t know I write it down. And that process for me is really relaxing. Just to know that not only am I getting to read, but I’m getting to learn something from this book actively.
DHM: What are you reading right now?
Nathan: “Love in the Time of Cholera” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
5. What keeps you up at night?
Benjamin:  A couple things. The first is I never seem to accomplish the things I’m trying to do in a single day. I’m always frustrated that there isn’t more I can do. I always end up getting tied up on someone or something and those hours are really important to me. I’m just frustrated that there isn’t more time to work on projects. The second is I tend to neurotically obsess over things that I may or may not have said in social situations. I replay things and try to figure out what’s wrong with people that I talk to and what’s wrong with me. 
Nathan:  Just curious if I’m living life in the best possible way or if I should make some drastic changes, of abandonment and escapism. Which then I talk myself out of and then I look at the positives with everything that’s happening in my life and I continue on with another day. But I go through all the different possibilities of how I could live my life happier and if I’m making the right choices.  
6. What’s the best invention?
Benjamin:  Airplanes are pretty fuckin’ amazing.
Nathan:  The typewriter.
7. What’s the most evil thing you own?
Benjamin: The brain 

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