by Paul Tullis
Jill and Gabby made Search and it was a demo tape kind of project that they paid for themselves, they did it w/ their friend Tony who had a studio. It was really casual, it was not intended for anything specific, they gave copies to friends and stuff and one of the friends was Mike D. This was b4 Grand Royal was in existence, it was in existence in his head only, and he came back to them and said this is great I’d like to release this on my new label. Why don’t you record a couple more songs and they were using samples and drum loops, stuff like that and in the meantime, it was taking a long time for Grand Royal to get set up and they were offered an opening slot for the Beasties on their comeback show to NY a few years ago and so they realized they had to put together a band, or they wanted to put together a band, they didn’t want to just like rap over a backing tape, so that’s where- V was a friend of Jill’s from a job they had together and then eventually they asked me to play drums, and we formed a band. We’re like a band now. We didn’t have a sampler at he time so we weren’t really able to perform- we did like realy primitive versions of songs that were on the tape, and we also like wrote a bunch of songs as a fourpiece band and then finally when Grand Royal was ready to put out the record, we put on 2 more songs, the last 2 songs, which have V and me playing on it, just to say like “this is the direction the band going in now” but we didn’t have our pictures on it or anything. So it took a while, but in a way it was good becuz we were able to play out and sort of get a buzz or whatever.
I’d been playing in a lot of different bands. When I joined I was playing in like 3 other bands, but it’s slowly but surely weeded the bands out with Luscious taking off. It was really nice cuz that usually doesn’t happen. SO that’s basically just it cuz we’re all old friends from NY.
No, I went to Stuyvesant, Jill went to City Art, Gabby went to Art and Design, and Vivian was schooled and brought up in Europe in var. places, like Austria and Paris cuz her parents were in the music world, like opera and classical piano. I don’t know what they think of LJ.
How’s it been different this time? Differences are that it’s a 4piece now, we had a whole bunch of live as opposed to samples- it’s more mixed up- we actually sample ourselves and then create loops of ourselves just for that kind of songs. Some songs are written totally in the studio, using records and computers and stuff like that, other songs are more traditional. just like bass-drums-guitar-keys-vocals.
Feeling the pressure? Not really. Early on w/ Capital, being that we had a good recorded project that they liked I think there was concern that our live show would be as good. And we assured them that we could pull it off. We have a sampler now and we play the stuff that’s on the record so it sounds like the record, but in the live context it’s a different dynamic. But we feel we’ve worked really hard to get the live show together cuz like Jill and Gabs had never played out live in a band b4 this band, and I had played in tons of bands since pretty young, so we got that together and we did a lot of touring and we enjoy that. The record company has been v hands off, v encouraging, but basically it’s been all up to us except for some suggestions. Like What? Just you know, when you finished w/ the album and you say this is our finished product and they were concerned that a couple songs weren’t quite done, and so we ended up reworking some songs and in fact they’re much better now than they were so it worked out fine and there was no pressure, either it’s like “you can go back and work on this some more- we’ll give you more time” they weren’t pressuring us to finish it or “you can just leave it like it is” and we ended up handing it in like four months late, so they were nice in giving us that space.
I was playing with the Lunachicks who a re pretty punk, rock, whatever, I played for them for like six months, and I was playing in another all-girl hard-rock band called Wench- very like hard stuff and loud and fast, so it was kind of nice to play in a more groove-oriented situation. It’s nice to be able to do both, different aspects of your personality.
Is hip hop the main influence? I don’t think you could say there’s any main influence, because we’re really open to all different kinds of music and influences. We all listen to different kind of stuff and don’t limit ourselves to one genre. We listen to jazz, and classical and country and chanting and anything, really. it’s pretty eclectic. We don’t want to get stuck in any one genre.
disco? We’re were a little to young for disco, but we participated in the rollerdisco craze. Disco rollerskating when we were like 12. That was a song that started as a rock song and then got mutated into a crazy disco retro song. We went really overboard with it. It’s tongue-in-cheek in a way.
What kind of clubs? Rap context? We’re more in the alt. scene, clubwise. We’ve never really played a hip hop show, like the most hip hop show we did was with the Goats, and the first show they did the Beasties and Cypress Hill. But mainly we’ve been like we toured w/ the Breeders, Urge, Bettie Serveert, we had Ben Harper opening for us so it’s pretty like, alt.rock.
feminist hope? That’s not something we aspire to. Though we like hiphop and there’s hip hop influences, I don’t see us in like the hip hop genre, you know the record biz is really segregated the way they market you, so whether you like it or not they’re not gonna let you cross over unless it happens organically. Which is unfortunate, because we’ve asked for certain like hiphop bands to tour with or open for us or whatever and often the bigwigs nix it. We don’t believe in segregation of musical styles.
Has that formed an impression of the record industry? My opinion has been formed since working in the biz w/ this band, I’ve realized how marketing works. There’s really specific genres in certain magazines, in certain clubs, you’re definitely on a track and it’s hard to break out of it. Certain publications cross over a little bit, like Vibe, but you do like 120 Minutes and you talk to Spin.
Hi how are you? Good. I’m comin from home, where are you comin from. Hi. So you still live in NY? Yeah. And you’re born and bred? Yup. OK, well we were livin together in SF and we were doing a lot of things together like video stuff, jamming and writing lyrics turning trix, but I’m not sposed to be telling people about that. Then we decided we should come back to the City cuz we know a lot of people, like I went to film school so I had a lot of teachers who could probably hook us up like with free equipment and stuff like that. And as far as music, we had seen enough bands that if we got back we’d probably run into somebody with a studio we could use, and coincidentally enough when we got back, pretty much weeks later we ran into Tony, a guy I had known years b4, and I told him we’d been thinking of starting a band, doing stuff w/ samples and he was like, well I’ve got a studio and I don’t really work w/ samples, but, you know, come check it out. So we did. And he was kind of apprehensive about working w/ samples cuz like he’s a music purist and with certain music coming out where you bite a riff and use it for a whole song, it can seem very, you know, plagiaristic. So he originally didn’t have a really good attitude about it, but eventually he got really into it cuz we stared acquiring equipment and did a lot of experimenting with things that we’d never really heard of existing b4, and we just started doing that and got really into it.
We had a ball in SF. Jill was going to school at Berkeley and I was tending bar in North Beach, at Martinelli’s. The owner got shot to death recently, that’s crazy huh? He’s actually a really nice guy, but I shouldn’t really go much further about what might have been going on. She had a couple guitars and an amp and our other roommate had a drum set so we’d do like fun thing like I’d play drums and she’d play guitar and we’d just wail and scream our heads off to top 40 songs. She really got me back into the guitar cuz I’d played when I was really young, like 13 or 14 and then I got do into going to clubs and dancing and stuff. So we just started playing together and it was really fun. We were living at 22nd and Valencia. This was 1989 and 90. We lived there for 3 years. Jill studied Women’s Studies and Art, she had a double major. We found that creatively SF is a great place to just be at peace and live in a beautiful environment and you feel free to be creative cuz you’re not being pressured and put down by the amount of people around you, the amount of competition, it’s just like my friend Hank did this thing Hyena Cabaret, absolutely hysterical stuff, but it’s kinda hard to get really out there in SF. There’s a lot of very talented people doing stuff in the art world and music and everything, but I think we just thought how we’re form NY and we know people there- that was the bottom line- it was kinda time to go, although I’d like to live there again. We were very inspired there, I was incredibly inspired there . I went to school there also, City College.
You try not to think about that kind of stuff when you’re making a record. You really want to just focus on whatever you’d naturally want to do, you don’t want to think about how, you know, well everybody’s expecting this we should follow it up w/ something more like this, like we should do another Life of Leisure, but it’s not like we thought that. In the mixing stages, in the producing stages I guess you get to a point where you gotta play it for your label and they might have their opinions on it you have to listen to them and see f you want to take their advice, so there’s definitely a difference becuz Manny we did on our own w/ our own money and we had no pressure form anyone cuz we were paying for it ourselves, but we tried to stay faithful to the way we made the 1st record, just to have our own say in the matter and not really getting persuaded in any way. And we still did sampled songs, live w/ samples songs, just live songs. This time we had more live songs becuz we have our full band now.
The last one definitely was more raw, we got a couple of pro musicians on this one- not that we’re not- ,sax and clavinet and stuff like that, and you know, you put a saxophone on something, and someone like Robert Aaron who’s a very excellent sax player, and it does give a more professional sound to this music I think. I don’t know, I’m sure we’re getting better at our musicianship and sampling techinques.
That record was done, like, we recorded stuff on the street…we’ll sample a record, or play a riff, it varies tune to tune.
We don’t consider ourselves a hip hop band, we don’t consider ourselves anything. I like the fact that people can’t really label us. I like music that you can’t really put your finger on. As long as I like it, that’s all that matters. I don’t want to say “Oh, this is a jazz-infused, rock, multi-ethnic, multi-sex” you know, I just couldn’t give a shit about that. If the record sounds good, that’s all I care about.
I don’t see it- absolutely not the great feminist hope of hip hop- I mean first of all we’re not a hip hop band. That’s insane.
I watch Kate eat with her mouth open and get nauseous, we play rummy 500 out on tour, I don’t know I just hang out w/ friends, we do what everyone does, read, take walks, sleep a lot.
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