FAVORITE FRESHMAN: Dutch Rebelle … can’t really say she is a freshman, but definitely just getting started and already got nominated for her first B.M.A. this year. And she is amazing. Or Old Abram Brown—awesome band—had the opportunity to do a show with them and Tan Vampires (from N.H.). Great sound for sure.
FAVORITE LOCAL MUSICIAN: Definitely … Rain or The Arcitype. I picked these producers not only because I have worked with them heavy over the last two years, but because they play their own instruments (it’s very hard to make hip-hop with no samples still sound relevant), and also because they have made hip-hop music relevant locally—not only for people who are die hard fans of the culture, but also for people who gave up on the genre and have moved on to indie rock or folk—
people who might be saying, “Shit, I don’t listen to rap anymore but … fuck, I love whatever this is.” That’s the sign of a great artist to me.
The Arcitype and and my buddy Rain get the vote from me. And if not those to jokers, than definitely Lady Lamb and the Beekeeper, a beast of a vocalist and songwriter. Music so good it makes me happy in my swimsuit area!!!!!!
FAVORITE NEW RELEASE/TRACK/MIX: The new Boogie Boy Metal Mouth. It’s heavy, it’s loud, it’s punk, hardcore, and it’s hip-hop. I love it.
Do yourself a favor and listen to them early and often or may you die a horrible death.
Or Bearstronaut‘s EP Paradice. I love it. Well-made music right here that you and all your multiracial friends can vibe to.
FAVORITE LIVE SHOW: Tan Vampires are hands down my favorite people in New England and I could watch them over and over and over.
Or Bearstronaut at a live party: fun on stage, great sound.
If you want to see my incendiary dancing styles get me in the crowd at a Bearstronaut show and back up, because mayhem will ensue!
And i would be crazy if i didnt mention Walter Sickert and the Army of broken Toys, Bad Rabbits, or Mean Creek. I just think the local seen already knows they are amazing!!!!!
MOST LIKELY TO BLOW UP:
Julia Easterlin is probably the most amazing vocalist I have ever seen, and she is beautiful. Truly mesmerizing woman right there.
MOST UNIQUE STYLE: The New Highway Hymnal. I am just fan shining in their glory. Child Actor is amazingly different from what I normally fuck with and definitely on heavy rotation right now. Trust me, it’s hot sauce.
Photos: Jess Hodge. L-R: Matt Simmers, Julia Easterlin, Jon Spero, Chris Barlow.
I’ll be completely honest with you: when I saw the three fast-talking dudes with larger-than-life personalities of Hot Pink Delorean/Terravita sit down with the demure Julia Easterlin at an Allston sports bar, I panicked for a second. What if she’s shy? What if she’s intimidated? What if the girl—whose Lollapalooza, SXSW and CMJ sets from the past year have left blogs across the country clamoring for the Berklee grad looping her own voice—didn’t have anything in common with the electronic DJ/dub step aficionados? Then, I snapped out of it. They’re musicians, for chrissakes, and engaging, enthusiastic conversationalists. And Julia totally held her own with Jon, Matt and Chris as they chatted each other up about expectations, genre and how music is kind of sort of like martial arts.
ON LOOPING; FREUD:
Jon Spero: With the looping and all the stuff you do, what exactly do you do onstage? Do you write your own loops? Julia Easterlin: I do. Matt Simmers: On the fly or pre-recorded?
Julia: I do it all live. I only use my voice, so it’s all happening from me. I have this little station—I play piano and guitar, but I got really fed up with playing and singing at the same time. I don’t like it.
Jon: So, you use your vocals to make the loops?
Chris: I saw a video where you were like, beating your chest and beatboxing and stuff— Julia: Yeah!
Jon: So, not only are you a singer/songwriter/looper, you are also a gorilla.
Julia: [laughs] Yeeeah. Matt: Richie Hawtin does stuff like that sometimes.
Jon: Yeah, he does. He’s like the originator of looping. That dude was out of control with that stuff.
He would play a live show—I mean, he was one of the originators of techno. What he’d do at a live show is he’d sit and record, and open a bag of potato chips and record it, and he’d put it in. Chris: His rider would include like, a paper bag and a bag of chips.
Jon: I think that’s really cool. I didn’t know the extent of your live show—I’ve heard your music, but I didn’t realize the loops in the background were also your vocals.
Chris: Do you play with a band, too? Julia: I just started with a band a couple of months ago. I have a drummer who plays a kit and a drummer doing hand percussion— Jon: So you got a tambourine guy. Julia: No! He actually— Matt: Triangle? Julia: [Laughs] Chris: Cowbell! Julia: DUDE! [laughs] He programs a lot of shit and triggers it. He plays it live. So I have two drummers and a bassist, and then I have my station, so I’m providing all the harmonic information. Jon: How does the whole band process work out for you? Julia: I think it’s great! It’s such a different thing. I love it. These guys have become my family. I love them so much and we have a really good time together, but there are times where it’s just, “Ugh, this is so much more complicated!” Chris: How is your dynamic—obviously, you’re the one who sings and write the stuff … Julia: Yeah. I’m very straightforward about it. There’s room for collaboration, and it’s my hope that they all feel important and included.
Jon: That’s the complete opposite of us. We absolutely fucking hate each other. [laughs]
Like you said, it’s family. We’re an actual family. Chris: Yeah. Jon’s actually my wife. We have a civil union. Matt doesn’t feel left out, though. Julia: So Matt, how do you fit into this? Do you feel third wheel-ish? Matt: [laughs] My friend described us as being the Freudian psyche in general, the id, the ego and the super ego. Jon’s the id—
just the impulsive, immediate “Do what I wanna do, this feels good, I’m doing it”—
Jon: I like to have a good time!
Matt: Chris is the ego. He’s much more focused on how the music’s going to be viewed by the larger crowd. Chris: If it’s gonna work in a night club, what night club it’s gonna work in … Matt: And I’m the super ego, I mean, I do the bulk of the engineering and songwriting and stuff but everybody else always has a say in it. Together, we make one functioning performer. Julia: With groups of people working together, it’s so important to have those personalities, all fulfilling different roles so you function well, you know what I mean? It’s like a machine. Everybody’s a part. Jon: That’s the best way to describe us. We are a machine. We each have our own strengths and weaknesses. Without each other, it’d be impossible to keep the peace. We’ve come to realize three heads are greater than one, and it’s hard for people to understand the music industry when you glamorize stuff how you would want to share the limelight with two other people. Julia: I totally hear you.
ON THE AFTER PARTY; STEVE MARTIN
Matt Simmers: You’re on tour all the time. Is there any time that you go play and you guys have big after-parties or anything?
Because our scene is just always a huge party. Jon Spero: So much so that I kinda wanna die sometimes. [laughs]
Chris Barlow: They almost wanna hand you a drink when you get off at the airport. [laughs] Julia Easterlin: That’s kind of hysterical. I mean, I don’t know—I was actually telling Jon about this before—I don’t really have a particular scene. I don’t feel like I have a genre and a scene that I’m a part of. Jon: That gives you so much freedom, though. Julia: It does! It’s cool—I have friends who play folk music, friends that play jazz and bluegrass. Basically what I’ve come to realize is that people just like to party, you know? Chris: I’ll drink to that. Julia: So any show that I can play, and whoever’s around, if there’s bluegrass kids, jazz kids or electronic music kids or whatever, there’s always an after-party. It just happens and it’s fun, so why not?
Jon: Speaking of bluegrass—this is a little off topic, but have you seen Steve Martin play bluegrass?
Matt: It’s pretty good. Jon: You gotta check it out. Chris: It’s pretty awesome. Jon: Outta control. He’s got a band. Chris: Wasn’t he the number one banjo player in the— Jon: Yeah, he won the best banjo player of the year in the Bluegrass Awards. Julia: You’re kidding! Jon: I’m not fucking with you. Julia: Steve Martin, like … Jon: Steve Martin. I got tickets to go see him, I thought it was gonna be this comedy bluesy thing. Fuck that, he did like five minutes of comedy and then they did a two hour set of live bluegrass. Julia: Was it fantastic? Jon: It was unbelievable. I left there wowed. Chris: He sings, too. Jon: He sings, he writes all the music, writes all the songs, and he won best banjo player of the year at the Bluegrass Awards. They also won best album at the Bluegrass Awards. Julia: I wonder if he’s one of those people who’s good at like five different things— Jon: Everything! He’s like ninety! Julia: And just like wins the awards for all of these different—
Jon: How?! How are you good at everything? Fuck you Steve Martin. Fuck. You.
Chris: If there was a Grammy award for drinking, we might win that. Julia: Yeah? You guys are big party animals.
ON CO-WRITING; VOLTRON?:
Julia: It’s an interesting thing—when you have four people working on a song together, there’s potential for the intention behind the song to become diluted. Matt: Absolutely! Yes. Julia: Whereas when you’re working by yourself it’s all—I do feel like when I’m working alone I’m pulling from my gut, I’m saying exactly what I wanna say the way I would say it. And even when you present it to other people and say “Hey guys, I did this, let’s move forward with this,” there’s gonna be three other people’s personalities inherently involved in the music. Matt: How do you feel when you’ve finished that? When you get to that point and you hand it to other people? Julia: Ah … that’s an interesting question! Matt: Because this happens to me all the time. This is pretty much what I do, is I start off with all the music and then I hand it to them, and I’m like, “What do we need to do to this?” Julia: And we discuss and we’re like “This needs to change, or this part needs to change.”
Matt: When I first started doing that, it wasn’t always the easiest thing to be like, “That took me four fucking hours to do and you don’t like it!”
How do you deal—does that happen to you? Julia: Oh, totally. When you work on something for awhile and then you bring it to three other people and say, “Hey let’s work on this together now!” I mean it’s exciting, it’s intriguing and I’m usually curious about what’s gonna happen. But at the same time, I have to keep myself in check and be like, “Ok Julia, don’t lose your temper—“ Matt: “—Take a deep breathe—“
Julia: “—And don’t be a little bitch about this.” [laughs]
Matt: Well, I’ve had the same conversation with myself a lot about not being a little bitch.
Chris: Since you’re a singer-songwriter, and in that sort of a position—I’m curious why you don’t just show up and go “These are the lyrics, this is the chord progression.” Julia: Well, it depends on the song. In the past I’ve always worked that way. With the guys I’m working with now, I brought them songs and I’m like, “Okay, this is the song. You do what you think makes sense to go with what I’ve already written.” And now we’re venturing into the territory of actually co-writing. In some ways, it’s easier because you have four brains in one room instead of one. Matt: You ever run into this? Someone comes up with half an idea and you’re like “Holy crap, I’m gonna complete this idea, and it’s awesome.” You ever done that? Julia: Yeah! Matt: Chris and I have definitely done it before. Jon and I have done that before. Jon: That process I like a lot. I have a riff in my head—“Let’s get that down”—and then one person will do something to it, and somebody will do something to it, and all the songs we’ve done like that have come out really well..
Matt: It’s like music Voltron.
Matt: If you know what Voltron is. [laughs] We’re a little older. Jon: We’re a little older than you, Julia Easterlin. Julia: I’m not in the cool kid club, I’m sorry.
Jon: How old are you? Julia: I’m 22. Jon: Oh, then you damn sure don’t know Voltron. Matt: You need to write a song called “Do You Remember Voltron?” You will be the coolest person ever.
ON “THE BEST” MUSIC:
Matt Simmers: With our scene, we’ve got this enormous animosity with people fighting over one genre—“This is the best kind of music.” Do you encounter that? Julia Easterlin: Sort of—I encounter it with individuals who say “THIS is my opinion.” Matt: “You should be a little bit more country; you should be a little more—” Jon Spero: That’s the beauty about music is that there’s no good or bad music. It’s all opinion. Julia: Right—but everyone thinks that this is the best music, the most pure or whatever. Jon: It may be the most popular music, but it doesn’t make it the best. To every single person, different music is the best music. Chris Barlow: Unless you’re talking to somebody at a record label—then the most popular is the best. Jon: Yeah but that still doesn’t make it the best, it’s just the music that that label is into. Matt: It’s really strange because music is such an emotional art. Even visual art, we can detach ourselves a slight bit. Julia: You guys keep talking about your music that you make, almost like you’re a bit emotionally detached from it yourselves. Is that the case?
Matt: I’m very emotionally attached to what I make, but the thing is I also look at it like it’s a painting more than it’s something that I pull out of my soul.
Julia: Out of your guts, yeah.
Jon: I agree with that analogy … Matt: The stuff that we create, though—I try to look at it not like music, not like visual arts, but like martial arts. Martial arts are probably one of the most quantifiable types of arts, because if you’re bad at it, the other guy kicks your ass. Julia: [laughs] That’s really true.
ON BREAK-UPS; RAMADAN?
Jon Spero: You know when you’re going into a recording session and you’re having the worst day ever?
I think my girlfriend had broken up with me. I lost a contact and I couldn’t get home, so I only had one eye.
Julia Easterlin: [laughs] Matt Simmers: And you were hung over! Chris Barlow: She kicked you out of the house, too. Jon: She kicked me out of the house … and I was hammered. So I showed up to the studio session like, one eye, hammered, pissed off and they’re like, “Alright, we’re just gonna leave you in here for an hour. Just freestyle for an hour.” I got so frustrated I just started speaking gibberish.
It’s like “Ramma ding dong fuckin’ I fuckin’ don’t care anymore!”
Matt: It was weird because we come out and I’m listening to the recording and he’s just MCing normal,
and then all the sudden it’s “RIP RAP RAMADAN ZING A BAM BING BONG—“
Chris: [Laughs] What was that? Matt: Ramadan? Jon: I don’t even know. It’s a holiday. Chris: Are you Muslim now, Jon? Jon: Evidently. I don’t know.
ON BACK TO THE FUTURE, ETC.:
Julia: So, are you guys really into Back to the Future? Jon: Uh huh. Matt: I am a big fan of Back to the Future. I’m pretty much a big fan of anything Robert Zemeckis. Chris: We were all born in the ’80s. Julia: I thought so! I was born in the ’80s. Jon: What, ’89? Julia: ’89… [laughs]
Chris: We were born when we actually remembered the ‘80s.
Jon: I was born in ’81. Matt: We were born when we used to wear outfits from the ‘80s. Julia: I the ‘80s have come back in full swing. Everybody’s like, “’80s, yeah!” Matt: Well, now I think the ‘90s are starting to come back. Julia: Yeah, that’s a little weird.
Jon: Man I feel so old these days. I’ve seen two revolutions of rave. In my lifetime I’ve already seen two revolutions of rave.
Matt: There’s been three. Julia: And you’re only gonna see more. Matt: I don’t know how many more I can take. [laughs]
Chris: The whole electronic music thing now though is not even just rave. It’s going completely mainstream now.
Jon: Well, it’s doing both. Which is the weird thing. Matt: Do you do a lot with licensing, with TV shows and stuff like that? Julia: I’ve never actually delved into that world. Matt: I mean they taught you that in school and everything right? A lot of that? Julia: Yeah, talked about it. Matt: Dude, honestly, that’s where the money is. Jon: She’s not a dude Matt, she’s a lady. Julia: I hang out with dudes all day long. Dude and bros— Jon: I’m just chastising him for no reason. Julia: No, I don’t know. I don’t really know that much. There’s a lot that I just don’t know. Jon: So school didn’t do well for you? Julia: No! School did really well for me—as far as figuring out, “Okay, how far have I gotten right now? How far am I going to go? How do I get there?” I’m still at the point where I’m figuring all that out. Jon: That’s the hard part. That’s the really hard part. Julia: So that’s where I am right now. And I’m loving it.
Hot Pink Delorean is embarking on a US tour in November, hitting places like Los Angeles and Houston. Julia Easterlin next plays Great Scott on 12.8.11, download her newest track “Render” at juliaeasterlin.com.
Not to name names or anything, but there are some rowdy Boston musicians in this town right now and they’re roving around the streets of Austin like a hungry pack of wolves with a taste for rock and roll. And I got to tag along with them. SXSW DAY 3! Get in on it! Continue reading →
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