First Person: Deap Vally | KCET
First Person: Deap Vally
Musicians Deap Vally recently stopped to unleash a bombastic style of guitar and drums mayhem in their performance in Studio A. Julie Edwards and Lindsey Troy sat down with us to discuss their message, starting the band, writing music, and future recordings.
Discover more about Deap Vally in their own words.
On Their Message
Julie Edwards: I think one thing is we really wanted was to communicate. We didn't want to be obscure and esoteric and interpretive. We really wanted to communicate directly. We wanted people to know what we were saying. And we wanted to find the best ways to say the simplest things. The feminism comes in because we were playing a type of music that men usually play. So it just seems cool to totally infiltrate that by, lyrically as well, covering our own ground rather than like, covering their ground, you know? That's like the ultimate appropriation of that music.
On Starting the Band:
JE: I used to own a knitting shop, called 'The Little Knittery' in Atwater village. And one day, Lindsey walked into my store to take a crochet class. And the rest is history.
Lindsey Troy: Yeah. So I took a crochet class and Julie taught me how to crochet. The class was three hours long, there was only one other person in it. So, we were chatting a lot and we bonded. And then I kept coming into the store after that, asking for help with my project, and just basically wanting to hang out with Julie. She'd be first to hang out with me because she was at work. And then she asked if I wanted to start a band with her.
LT: That was that. I think we were just kindred spirits, you know. Just one of those things you can't really explain.
JE: It is kind of inexplicable. Lindsey gave me her EP, and it was like a very different kind of music than I'd normally listen to. But when I listened to it I thought she just had a killer voice, and great lyrics, and really good rhyme and good time, and all good, essential stuff. I just thought it was crazy that someone like that was kicking around and not, like really doing something. I had been thinking about putting an all-female thing together. So it just made sense.
LT: Yeah. And I thought she was so cool. I had a friend crush on her. [My folk project] was just me and an acoustic guitar. I made that EP that she heard I put out like, eight or nine years ago. So it's old. So it had been out for five years when I gave it to her. I wasn't really doing that much with music anymore. I wanted to start something new, but it was kind of bored of the stuff I'd been doing before. I was starting to play around on my laptop, and toy around with different ideas. So I guess we kind of met at the perfect time, you know?
On Their First Sessions
JE: Angular, experimental, self-indulgent, creative rock. We had like, 18 different parts.
LT: It's just so fun. Long songs are the most fun.
JE: Well the first time we jammed I invited my friend Ashley Dzerigian to come and jam with us. She was a sick bass player who was in the band Great Northern, which was when I first met her. And then she ended up going on tour as a professional bass player on tour and she's played with tons of bands. We were going to do this all girl thing. And the jam was awesome. Ashley kind of led the jam. She was the most pro, so she like jammed with people the most.
LT: We were more awkward.
JE: Yeah, we were...
LT: I was probably the most awkward. I don't know, maybe not.
JE: You didn't seem awkward.
LT: That's cool.
JE: And we all jammed, we came up with a song that was like, awesome. Swampy and slow and groovy and funky.
LT: But pretty punk too.
JE: Punk. And about, like, stalking a guy. And it was great. We were totally down. But then Ashley went on tour and was never available again, because she was touring with like... What's the pop guys name?
LT: Adam Levine.
JE: Adam Lambert.
LT: Adam Lambert.
JE: So she was like, going all over the world and busy. So Lindsey and I just carried on without her.
On Finding Their Sound
LT: It just kind of happened. We had decided that the blues would be a good way to start and find a common ground there.
JE: I'd been in Pity Party two piece for so long. So Mark, my band mate, we knew some like, good secrets for beefing up the two piece sound and doing it that way.
LT: It was all about resourcefulness. When we first started jamming I got my electric guitar from my dad. When we first started, for a while I was playing through a keyboard amp.
JE: (Laughs) What was that amp?
LT: We were too broke to buy any new gear. So we were just being resourceful.
JE: Yeah, we were just borrowing amps from every show at the beginning.
LT: Had we had a lot of money maybe our sound would have been different, you know? Like maybe I would have bought a bunch more pedals or something. But I couldn't afford to. So it was very like, minimal. Like stripped down. And then, minimalism really just like, became part of what defined us.
On Writing Music
LT: I like the idea of no subject being off limits, you know? That makes it fun to write. We can write about whatever we want to write about.
JE: I think a lot of people write about jilted love because they experience it. And it's such an intense experience, so they end up working through it with music.
LT: Also, I mean there's kind of a stigma about singing about things, you know? Singing about things in the world that upset you and I guess political stuff, I think there is a stigma against that. But we kind of like, do all of it. We just sing about whatever we feel like singing about. So sometimes it's love, sometimes it's about...
JE: The walk of shame.
LT: The walk of shame, you know making your own money or peace and love, whatever.
JE: We basically only took time off to record. And then we just like, toured, toured, toured, toured, toured, toured.
LT: Yeah it was crazy. It was really, really fun, really hard...
JE: It's really exhausting.
LT: Yeah. It's really rewarding but also just like really physically demanding, and just like all these things.
JE: Even down to every day of your life. You lug a big suitcase into your hotel room, open it up, get ready for bed, go to bed, get up, repack, take your suitcase back out, put it in the van. I mean that's every day. So if you can imagine having to deal with it, your suitcase, every day, then you can imagine being on tour. That was always, that was always my breaking point was always when I was not in the mood to repack, you know? [Getting onstage] that's the best part. That's the time on tour when you know what you're doing, what you're there to do, you know? That's what you're doing it for.
We did all kinds of crazy tours, like we opened for Muse. We played in front of 14,000 people, stuff like that. That was pretty quick too. I mean we went from playing at the Echo to playing for Muse pretty fast. Like, here's 14,000 people, go engage with them. Show them the rock. It was pretty good. I remember our first sound check sounded like a disaster and I really felt full of doom.
LT: Yeah I remember that first night was pretty scary. Definitely pretty scary, because that place was huge...
JE: We tried to win everybody over, you know. And we just played as hard as we could, and as well as we could, and got into it, and got sweaty. We tried to seduce them with the transformative powers of rock.
LT: It's been fascinating to live this lifestyle that you fantacize about your whole life. And it gives you this sort of camaraderie with other bands and other touring musicians. When I was younger I felt so much hostility towards pop music and pop stars, I just like hated everything it represented. Felt like it was like, truly evil. And still, I mean I don't listen to pop music, but I know how hard those people work. I can respect that. Cause it is very grueling, you know. I mean I can't even imagine 'cause pop stars don't have any anonymity, they lose that. So we still have that.
On Future Recordings
LT: I think it's still an exploration. We always wanna be pushing ourselves and doing things that feel fresh to us. Challenging, but fun and fresh at the same time. We just started writing again and it's been really fun to sort of crack that open again.
On California's Influence:
JE: Well the weather. We don't wear very much. Seems to be a scandal in a lot of places. You don't realize what it's like to live in permasun.
LT: We also both grew up around the culture of performance and art, which I feel very fortunate to have done.
JE: I'm sure it's given us a really professional edge that we're not even aware that we have. Because everything you do in L.A. is so legit, it's very hard to just feel scrappy and underground and no one's ever going to know because people are going to know there's a bright light shone over here and there's people doing real stuff.
LT: But there's also so many people here. Because I'm from San Diego originally, and feeling like a big fish in a small pond down in San Diego and then moving to L.A. and just completely having my confidence utterly shattered when I was 18 years old, just feeling like, woah. You know? Like, lost in this ginormous sea of very hard working, talented, creative, driven people. And eventually starting to find my confidence again and get the groove of living in this city. But it's cool, it forces you to work very hard if you want to stand out. But it's also great, because there are so many people who appreciate art and culture and all these things, and there's a community. You know, we have so many incredibly talented friends like designers, painters, photographers, video directors, musicians. So I think that coming up in that community really helped us a lot and really inspired us. We always try and collaborate with our friends whenever possible.
On the Crochet Connection
LT: We do a lot of crocheting and knitting.
JE: We're avid knitters and crocheters. That's what you do on tour when you're sitting there for six hours in the van. On our last tour we supplemented our income -- or lack thereof -- by knitting hats, custom Deap Vally hats that said 'Deap Vally' in them. So we would just buy wool all over the world wherever we were and make a couple hats for that night, sell them at the merch table, take our earnings, and buy more. We also actually taught a couple crochet classes on tour at different, knitting crochet shops. One in Berlin, one in Amsterdam.
LT: It was really fun.
JE: Yeah it was really fun.