Deap Vally landed in 2013 with their rock debut Sistrionix. The LA duo bombed down the Transatlantic speedway, lighting psych-blues fires throughout the US and Europe. Lindsey Troy’s whiskey-soaked vocals and killer guitar riffs were chaotic, but found a degree of order in the heat of Julie Edwards’ drumming. After several loops around the world, they returned from their travels and decided it was time for a gear shift. The change was inspired by the pair’s need to create their vision on their own terms, without label input. Lindsey and Julie needed to be able to operate in a way that didn’t suck the living joy out of their creations, otherwise that blues synergy of rock’n’roll (forged between them at a knitting club in Echo Park some five years ago) would simply not be able to reach its pinnacle.
So the two-piece took a risk, parted ways with their label (amicably so), and wielded the time they needed to reassess matters by themselves, even doing short stints as touring bass players: Lindsey in White Lung and Julie in JJUUJJUU. “We were given this gift of time to make the record,” explains Julie, optimistically. “We kept writing, recording, exploring all these flavours. It was a real luxury.”
It’s a luxury many bands don’t get, and it’s strengthened their identity, which has now become an “ism”: specifically ‘Femejism’. That’s the name of the second record. “We don’t ever wanna do what people expect of us, we always want to do the opposite of that,” says Lindsey, ever the rebel. “Like after a break-up when you cut your hair, dye it, and just explore being free on so many levels.” Julie intercepts, “But, y’know, within the confines of guitar and drums.” Their new labels – Cooking Vinyl and Nevado Records – have put their faith in the ladies’ vision entirely.
Femejism has been two years in the making. “This is what we wanted: total freedom,” says Julie. The pair explored new territory at recording studios in Downtown LA and the San Fernando Valley. They had a third character in the mix, too, Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitarist Nick Zinner, who lent key production skills to the pair’s own chemistry. “He’s pushed our songwriting a lot,” says Lindsey. The pair also explored new territory at recording studios in Downtown LA and the San Fernando Valley, this time honing their producing skills too. The track ‘Julian’, for instance, was produced entirely by them. Both ladies insist that theirs is a love/hate relationship they’re incapable of explaining. “It’s a mystery that neither of us understand,” says Julie, the yogic yin to Lindsey’s dramatic yang. “We’re giving ourselves to an alchemy we don’t control but it creates art. It’s raw, hot and loud, you know?”
The duo always keep their cards close to their chests when it comes to offering explanations. “What do you think it means?’” defers Julie on the subject of titles, lyrics, etc. Although they take what they do seriously, Deap Vally try not to take themselves too seriously. There’s a sense of humour that catches you off guard. The only thing they do offer is that true crime and historical characters have inspired some songs. Maybe the self-produced ‘Julian’ or ‘Little Baby Beauty Queen’, but who knows? They both kick like a mule regardless.
“I always want there to be some philosophical endgame,” adds Julie. “They’re personal songs and they’re universal. Nothing’s too mired in emotion.” Lindsey agrees. “We wanna give people music they deserve.” Take ‘Teenage Queen’, which comes over like an Alex Turner anthem. //I’m gonna live forever, Snapchat, sex and cigarettes, life is but a dream for a teenage queen// hollers Lindsey. It’s a feverish poke at societal ills, without getting too preachy. In ‘Critic’ there’s a stripped-back grunge vibe as Lindsey drawls //everyone is a fucking critic, a fucking cynic// in a way that’s so blasé as to be positively liberating. The song is sonically the “biggest departure” for them.
“It was hard sitting on this record for so long, not knowing what was gonna happen,” says Lindsey. But that waiting made the pair even more ambitious. Julie went ahead and had a baby. “The baby came out, then we found the perfect partners. It was like it had to happen that way,” Julie muses. Lindsey adds, brazenly, “Now that we have a home I just wanna put out a tonne of records.”
“Sistrionix was a document of the early years of Deap Vally”, Julie concludes. “Femejism is a document of the metaphorical desert we’ve been crossing between towns.” Make sure you bring a bottle of Jack for the ride. You might need it to take the edge off.