ATJ presents HELOISE & the SAVOIR FAIRE, Wednesday, October 22, 2008, for After the Jump’s CMJ Showcase at the Knitting Factory NYC on the Main Stage with Starfucker, Unicycle Loves You, Crystal Antlers, and Juvelen.
Listen :: Po’T
MIA: Musically, how did the band form, what past experiences do you carry with you?
JAMES: Heloise formed the band after having been in a large jazz ensemble called ViperHouse. They were out of Vermont in the mid ’90’s. They jammed a lot, Heloise sang and played the flute and was encouraged to experiment vocally by her band mates, so she got way into skat. As her time with the ViperHouse drew to a close, she began working on some songs that she considered closer to her heart. She grew up loving her fellow Minneapolis native: Prince, and of course, Madonna, and Poindexter on the Violin, and especially Lamar. And knew there would be dancers. Oh, and a full band. Everyone in the band has such different illustrious past experiences. I could talk about this for hours. Musically, I think you can hear those different experiences coming from each member. One guy told me my guitar playing reminded him of Lynyrd Skynyrd.
MIA: Describe the feeling of living and making music in your city, feel free to share a memory or a certain place that makes you feel like home.
JAMES: We have a lot of bars/second homes around here but we used to play at Lit Lounge a lot. The first show we ever did was with the added live musicians there. Luke and I dressed up like cops. Cooley wore his tyvek DEVO suit and rapped. Tracy and Pam joined us for a song about women in prison. I think that was the only time we ever performed that song. We played “Toxic” by Britney Spears and I had bags of Cheetos and Doritos taped on to my body. Heloise ripped them open and shoved handfuls into her mouth while she sang. She had thick mascara running down her face. After that, we had the Midway as our clubhouse for a while…
MIA: Do you enjoy to perform live? How does the band like to get ready and is there a favorite song that you like to play for your audience?
JAMES: There’s a lot of costuming at the shows, and that takes a lot of preparation. Articles of clothing are flying across the room, “What about this?” .. “I’m thinking “teal rat fantasy” and “top hat catastrophe” to start, then switch to…” A vodka soda lurks nearby. “…Space Royalty!” Sometimes before shows we talk about make-believe small towns called P.P. Corners, which have their own detectives, who have their own detective agency called “P.P. Corners Detective Agency”. “Detective Mousefat speaking. What’s the crime?” I think we all like the song ‘Memorial Day’, because it’s kinda loose but still rocks. Actually, no, wait: ‘Canadian Changs’. Definitely.
MIA: Within your songwriting, is there some type of element that has brought about a certain mood in yr writing, making you feel more/less different than when you started? How long has the recording process taken to complete your album and to finally believe that it’s ready?
JAMES: Yes. Fire. Fire cooled by Water to produce steam. Wind to blow the steam over the Earth. The result is often satisfying. A lot of our songs have been around for a while, and some of them have gone through changes in our live set. The album is ready when you’re satisified with what you hear. It won’t sound like that live, probably.
MIA: What qualities do you hope listeners may take from listening to your music?
JAMES: Smiley feelings. Thoughts about humans’ existence and how they possibly found themselves in such strange and socially awkward situations. Jubilation in the form of bodily movement, i.e., bumping and grinding. Overcoming insecurities. Wanting to rip each other’s clothes off and go out for a beer after. Or a Pinkberry.
MIA: Any recommended records so far of ‘08?
JAMES: Fleet Foxes because it’s a beautiful sounding record that reminds me of a cloudy beach boys medieval folk festival in the Appalachians. And England. And the Pacific Northwest. Flight of the Conchords because it’s funny and good at the same time. Jason, our bass player, would want me to list ‘Nude With Boots’ by Melvins, too, for obvious reasons. I haven’t spent a lot of time listening to new music this year. Last year I was really up on things. Not this year though.
MIA: Name a visual artist or piece of work that inspires you.
JAMES: Francis Bacon, Cy Twombly, Francisco Goya, Wassily Kandinsky, Roberto Matta, Boris Vallejo and Joe Shepard. There are countless others. They all need to be looked up on the intranet… the inspirations are visible and endless.
MIA: Please share a mixtape with a theme of your choice.
JAMES: The…me…mmmmm….e… it’s in there…
Up With People by Lambchop
Force of Nature by The Golden Dogs
Roscoe by Midlake
Tam Lin by Fairport Convention
Bros by Panda Bear
Is It Happening by Ryan Power
Bruton Town by Pentangle
Your Protector by Fleet Foxes
Can You Get to That by Funkadelic