By Scott Birnie
When asked a while back who is currently ‘holding the torch' for rock music, my answer was simple. No one. No one band or artist will ever need to carry on the tradition of rock n roll as the genre is, in itself, more than just about the music. It's an attitude, a way of life for artists around the world who wow millions on the big stage or just their friends in a garage down the street. For a true rock artist success is never the ultimate goal and international fame is not the purpose. This all couldn't be truer for Deap Vally, two girls from L.A. The Valley to be specific. These two have, in less than two years, set the stage for a revolution with their simple yet ferocious blues/rock attack. A sound so original and progressive that it transcends the decades.
While fans and critics around the world clamber to get a piece of this duo, I managed to talk to drummerJulie Edwards about everything from their humble beginnings, performing in a Bull Ring to their upcoming debut album ‘Sistrionix'. This is Deap Vally...
Julie. Hi how are you, thanks for taking the time out to talk to me today.
Hey Scott, that's cool I'm good how are you?
Excited! You recently returned home to L.A. from a tour of Europe and also Australia playing Sydney and Melbourne, how was it?
So cool, it was so much fun, Europe was a really collaborative experience we played with some great musicians, and Australia was really cool, we were so excited to go there, we really wanted to come to New Zealand but didn't have the time but we will!
We don't know, we both (Lindsey Troy) want to come but it just has to work logistically really. I really want to see where the Hobbits live, we've heard such great things about how beautiful it is we want to come and see it all.
Did you get to spend much time in Australia when you were there?
It was pretty quick, we had three gigs, when we were in Sydney it was pouring with rain and we didn't get to do the things we wanted to do like going to the beach or the zoo, we didn't get to see and kangaroos, koalas or great white sharks. The audiences were awesome; the venues were great we had a really nice time.
Who did you perform with?
Two of the shows with played with Australian band Gung Ho, and the last show we played with this guy Willie Mason. They were very different acts but both really cool. And we got to meet Jared Leto! Random. Really cool we got to meet him.
And now you are about to start on an American tour including Coachella and Lollapalooza, were you surprised to get the call to play two of the most well-known festivals in the world so early on in your career?
I don't think we were surprised, we are truly grateful to get the opportunity and to be included and we are really excited, it's definitely what we wanted, so we are glad it's happening.
Were you hoping for this sort of success when you first started Deap Vally, was this your aim?
We wanted to make it work, we are so lucky we are doing the dream thing for a band, we play festivals all over the world and tour in between. Festivals are so much fun; you see and meet so many new bands. Every weekend we are in another city at another big festival, it's such a cool way to see the world. We love what we do.
So what is the full story behind how you and Lindsey met?
Haha yeah ok, well I used to teach knitting and crochet classes and one night Lindsey walked in, it was a really small class that night, only 3 of us, so we bonded, shared our stories of our struggles with our art and I thought she was really cool. She gave me an E.P. She had made of her singer/songwriter folk stuff she was working on and I just loved her voice and her lyrics. I couldn't believe that there was this talent right in front of me that wasn't doing anything! So she came back a lot to get help with her crochet project and wanted to learn how to knit, so we started hanging out a lot. I invited her to jam with me and a friend and it went from there. We came up with the name Deap Vally, because we are from the Valley, booked some shows and now here we are!
So where to from here, what direction are you taking now? Have you a plan?
We have an album coming out in June called Sistrionix, and basically lots of playing and touring and travelling, keep jamming and writing and keep on growing
So the album is ready to go? You've finished it?
Yeah we have, we are just finalising the art and that's it! The artist who is doing it is actually from Perth, we met him at our very first show in L.A.
How did you find the recording process? Where did you record and who produced it?
We recorded in a studio in San Pedro owned by the cold war kids, and then we went on tour for a bit and recorded the rest in a studio in East L.A. just down the road from where Phil Spektor shot that guy! Lars Stelfors produced it, he has worked with Mars Volta and Mat & Kim, and he made it sound edgy and raw. It was just the three of us recording it, he doesn't use an engineer so it was very intimate, and full of tension and energy and we hope it all comes across in the music.
Can't wait to hear it! There are lot of people interested in Deap Vally, in your music and performances; do you feel any pressure?
At this point we don't feel pressure, I think we are just along for the ride, we don't have insane expectation, we just go with flow. Lindsey and I have both had other lifetimes in music that has failed. We just feel privileged to be connecting with fans and seeing the world. We want it to be fun, what's the point if you put pressure on yourself. I feel like rock n roll represents an ideal and a lifestyle, the point of rock n roll is to not be uptight and stressed out, that wouldn't be Keith Richards way, I always ask myself what would Keith Richards do.
What is the Highlight of your career so far?
We are about to play with the Yeah Yeah Yeah's so I can safely say that will be the highlight for us. We love them and Karen O, she's changed the world as far as I'm concerned, she has so much confidence and swagger, she's an icon and it's such a privilege to be playing with her, we are so excited
Have you favourite Gig or venue?
Yes!! We played a bull ring in Madrid with Mumford and Sons, as a venue it was amazing everyone is right in your face, you could see everyone, it felt so intimate yet there were about 10,000 people there
Comparisons have been made between Deap Vally and the likes of the White Stripes and the Black keys, what do you think sets you apart from them?
Nothing, we are exactly the same, and the Black Keys are the same as the White Stripes too, hahaha I'm joking. Visually there are two of us but I feel like we have more body in our hair? Maybe our bodies have more body? Haha. The Black Keys are awesome, they have this really inoffensive tasty groovy thing going on, and the White Stripes are awesome, they take everything and smash it open with a blues hammer, Jack white is fucking insane and Meg white is an inspiration to me. Both those bands are different, what's different about us? We are heavier; we are more confrontational we think. The best thing about being a two piece is that it's simple. Only two personalities, only two peoples gear, it's very easy and if it works why change it? Everything Moves in cycles and I think Raw is right right now.
What's the craziest gig you have played?
Once you start touring it's hard to remember! At our last gig in Australia Lindsey lost her voice so we asked someone to come and sing. This girl in a red dress came on stage and killed it! I tried singing but the rhythms of my vocals were in time with the rhythm of the drums so it was all out of time but so much fun!
At least you carried on!
Haha yeah it was cool. Messed up and a bit awkward but fun!
What's the most played album on your iPod right now?
Tame Impala, I fucking love them, and Unknown Mortal Orchestra as well.
Have you seen them play?
UMO are good friends of ours, oh! Rueben (UMO) is from New Zealand! Yeah we have seen them play. We saw Tame Impala play about four years ago? It was at a show in L.A. and it was totally packed then and they were awesome, we get to see them at Coachella, yes!
We had both Tame Impala and UMO here at Rhythm and Vines last year.
We'll come and play! That would be amazing to play with bands like that in New Zealand!
Thanks for your time Julie, good luck with the tour and the album, hopefully we see you down here sometime soon.
Thank you so much, it's been fun to talk, enjoy your winter New Zealand, Don't hate the Hobbit!
On a very rare occasion an act comes along with a sound that cannot be ignored. In our generation Nirvana, The White Stripes, QOTSA, The Black Keys and Foo Fighters to name a few, have managed to take all that has come before them, extract the pieces they relate to, and develop their own unique blend of brilliance. Now, to this list, we can add Deap Vally. If ever there was a torch to be held in rock n roll, these girls just made it a whole hell of a lot brighter...