Photo: Bryan Sheffield courtesy of artist
Imagine if Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath each had a daughter and taught her about everything they knew and loved. Then they sent their babies off to roam and make their own fortunes in this great big world. Then one day, those two girls met. If we're speaking in terms of sagas and metaphors, this is more or less how Deap Vally was born. Having drawn endless comparisons to The Black Keys and The White Stripes (they find it flattering and humbling), and with Elliot Smith as their common denominator, the day Lindsey Troy met Julie Edwards, all the rock gods of yore quit their ruckus and hell-raising in the afterlife for a brief second and smiled in unison. Deap Vally is channeling a rarified form of blues-informed classic rock and hand-delivering it to the masses who wander dazed and confused in the parched, cracked desert of the once-lush oasis of rock and roll.
Because when Troy's rattling, earth-shattering vocals and fiery electric guitar licks meet the crashing impact of Edwards' punk-y, meditative drums, something revolutionary reacts in your ears. Something that can't even be replaced by what the surviving “rockstars” - and we use that term graciously - are salvaging these days with their arena tours and umpteenth, Billboard-charting albums. That quality: just what, exactly, is it? Check out “End of the World,” the leading track off their debut album Sistrionix. It’s a simple anthem decked out in all of the lip-biting, hair-raising glory of what rock used to be when it felt important. When The Dead, when Morrison, when The Who, when Petty. Simple as that.
After releasing Sistrionix, in 2013, the duo kicked off a string of festivals and tours, including Coachella and Glastonbury (the must-see set can be viewed in its entirety below).
We caught up with the band during a mini-breather before the touring and festival onslaught starts up again (their upcoming shows include SXSW, Sasquatch!, and Desert Daze). Check out our interview with Deap Vally below.
Ones To Watch: Where are you guys right now?
Julie: I live in Mt. Washington. And Lindsey…
Lindsey: I'm a gypsy. We toured so much the last year and a half that I got rid of my place about a year ago, I used to live in Los Feliz and now when we're back I just kind of hop around to different friend's houses.
So tell me how this all started with a crocheting class.
Julie: That was at the end of 2010. Lindsey came and took my class, at a shop in Atwater Village called the Little Knittery. (You know the bird place? It's like two doors over from the parrot store.) I was in a band called The Pity Party - which I still am we're just on hold. We hadn't been real active, hadn't been doing a lot. I think Lindsey and I both, as artists, in what we were each doing respectively, we were kind of hitting a plateau creatively - and with momentum. So it wasn't the same place in terms of how we were feeling, and what we were looking for.
Lindsey: I was working as an extra on T.V. and movies. I was really interested in the idea of acting and also, I was burnt out with the music I was playing at the time. So it was sort of like a different direction to go. But being an extra on movies and T.V. has nothing to do with acting really. So if anything it makes you want to do that less once you see that side of it. It's not that stimulating.
How did the musical connection spark from there?
Julie: Probably just after the first time we jammed 'cause it was so effortless. Like, intuitive and logical and just made sense.
Lindsey: For me I was really just feeling like I had wanted to reinvent myself musically. And I felt like I was ready to grab life by the balls and do something very seriously. So it was kind of really good timing when I met Julie and we both had an interest in doing a band very seriously. I was like sold on the idea. I was already committed to the band in my mind before we even jammed together.
It's interesting hearing you describe yourselves as the "grandchildren of Zeppelin and Black Sabbath" and bands like The Doors. Have you always sounded like that?
Julie: It hasn't evolved in terms of hopping a genre or anything like that. Basically the first day we jammed, we jammed with our friend Ashley on bass a long time and it was kind of a heavy, intentional, punky, blues-based thing. That just is kind of what came out. And yeah for the most part we really have been blues-based, that is to say songs based off the blues scale. It's really inspiring to work within a limitation and work within a genre and to mess with it in your own way. Like, it's not our intention for ever and ever… but it's really gratifying to play.
"Walk Of Shame" is such a great name for a song. I loved the theme of it is flipping that entire concept upside down. How did it come together?
Julie: Well it had been kicking around as a name of a song and as a concept. We wanted to write something that kind of de-shamed the "walk of shame" and de-stigmatized it. And then one day we decided to make some music for the concept.
Lindsey: It was written out in Topanga Canyon. We had a house that we were staying in for a couple of weeks. Just doing isolation writing - isolated from the outside world in like a little nut, a rad little house out there. Yeah that one we banged out really quickly. It just kind of came to us really fast.
Has the road or bands you've met sparked any ideas and influenced the music you're making now?
Lindsey: I would think so, I think anything we're experiencing really influences what we're writing. Playing shows for me has been number one every time, and the people we meet and the shows and adventures with who we're with.
Julie: I think with the creative process it's good to let it be free so it can be. And we were on tour so much we didn't get to have any kind of creative process for so long. So yeah, now we've been kind of messing around, getting some songs done. Like, first we need to get some things out of ourselves and then see what direction to go. We have a very organic process - none of us is like super strict about it. The way that everything came together before was very organic, and that seems to work for us, so that's what we stick to. So rather than having really specific notions of what we're going to write we're just more open to finding and discovering stuff, and then slowly realizing this is an amazing sound or this is an inspiring road to go down, you know?
What about each other drew you to one another?
Julie: Lindsey had given me her solo EP. And although genre-wise it wasn't really my thing, 'cause I like heavy music just in general, I thought she had such a good voice, I thought she had great lyrics. I really liked both the melodies and the rhythms of what she was singing - I thought she had great muscular control. It seemed like an interesting thing to work with someone like that.
Lindsey: It was just really folky, a lot of finger-picking. I guess sort of more dreamy, folky music. But I would say about Julie that she knew so much about music - more than anyone probably I'd ever met, and just was very opinionated about music. And I thought that was really cool and badass. She knew what she liked and didn't like. She had strong opinions about things, and I thought her band was badass.
Looking back on music in 2013, what's one thing that upset you and one thing that gave you hope?
Julie: Savages gave us hope. I guess Robin Thicke was kind of upsetting.
For more on Deap Vally check out their website.