Emerging from LA with a scuzzy and sludgy brand of filthy blues rock, guitarist Lindsey Troy and drummer Julie Edwards have gone on to tour extensively across the globe as Deap Vally – including an Australian debut at the start of the year. Turns out that visit was but a tease for their swift return, which will see the band grace Splendour In The Grass as well as peripheral headline shows.
“Playing shows is what makes it all worthwhile, that’s what we love to do and that’s what makes it so much fun,” Troy says. “All the travelling can be gruelling – being in the car all day. You get used to never being settled, you’re always packing or unpacking your suitcase. Now we have a few days off, which never happens. Julie’s in LA and I’m in New York.”
It’s the first time the duo has been apart in a while, and they have quite the fertile dynamic on stage and in the studio. “When we met, we had really great chemistry,” Lindsey recalls. “Just enjoying talking to each other and our musical experiences, and we were hungry to do something new. I always wanted to play rock’n’roll, and Julie wanted to do something inspired by soul and classic rock. I thought it would be good to have blues as the blueprint – no pun intended – for what we were building around that. That’s how we started.
“We were originally meant to be a three-piece. Our first rehearsal was with a real bad-arse bassist, but she was really busy playing with other bands and touring. So Julie and I would go in just the two of us and rehearse that way. It became clear pretty quickly that it was working really well with just the two of us. We wrote Baby I Call Hell, our current single, during the first practice with just the two of us. We felt very comfortable around each other.
“Julie has such great ideas, she’s really creative. Neither of us are that classically trained on our instruments – we had a couple of lessons here and there. I grew up playing acoustic guitar, so learning to play electric and figuring it out on my own was really fun. There’s a really good alchemy between Julie and I, we just went into the rehearsal space, jamming and coming up with more songs. We were both really driven. When we first started talking about the band, I knew it was the band I’ve been dreaming of my whole life. We were both determined to make it work.”
When it comes to writing new material, the Deap Vally method is just to jam, jam and jam some more. “It’s always different,” Troy says, “but a lot of times it’s starting with a riff as the basis of a song and building out from there. But sometimes we’ll write from one of Julie’s drumbeats; sometimes there’s a lyrical idea. We just get in the room together and start jamming. A lot of times it doesn’t sound great, but sometimes it does. Sometimes we’ll start with an idea that turns into something cooler. It’s a very collaborative process, we write all the lyrics together too.”
With few exceptions, two or three piece bands often grow to supplement their sound with extra musicians. While Deap Vally don’t see themselves fleshing out anytime in the near future, Lindsey doesn’t rule out the prospect. “It’s really hard to imagine another member being in the band, because it’s very much a democracy between Julie and I. At the moment we really love the limitations of being a two-piece, it’s really defined the band. It’s exciting to work within those limitations, so we will go as far as we can with that. If we get to that point where we feel restricted or tired, we could add someone else – who would be a female. But I don’t see it happening anytime soon.”
Lindsey Troy’s guitar tones more than compensate for the lack of a bassist, filling out the bottom end with mammoth fuzzy sonics. “I just think they sound the best. Guitar tones are so exciting, and those are the tones I was drawn to when we started the band. They’re just really powerful.”
As for her guitar role models, Troy lists a series of greats from a range of eras. “Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, Nick Zinner, Joan Jett, and Jack White. All the blues guys from back in the day – Robert Johnson, Son House, Blind Willie McTell. They were just un-fucking-believable at their instrument, and I would love to learn how to play like that one day.”
Having toured so prolifically in the past year, the band has refined their setlist into a powerhouse showcase of material from their upcoming debut album. “Most songs are really exciting to play. The way we write, there’s a lot happening to fill out the sound. Julie’s doing a lot with the drums and doing backup vocals, my hands are busy with the guitar and my feet are busy pushing pedals. It keeps it really fun. The songs we don’t really love kind of got weeded out, so everything left is fucking rad. ‘Gonna Make My Own Money’, people really love that song. There’s a really fun one to play live called ‘Walk Of Shame’. Also the closer of the album, ‘Six Feet Under’, we’ve only played once, but it was a lot of fun.”
On the festival circuit, it seems that the power of rock‘n’roll has receded somewhat under the onslaught of the EDM juggernaut, but Deap Vally are dead set on fighting rock’s corner.
“I think it’s so important because it’s something that’s kind of been lost in the mainstream,” Troy says. “It’s a craft, something that needs to be preserved like an ancient language. It’s the genre with the most balls, and it gives a platform for people to be unapologetic, be really bold, to make a statement and have fun at the same time. It’s an unpretentious genre – or at least it should be. It’s a genre with humanity, which is something that has been lost in a lot of modern music. It’s not programmed by a computer, it’s not where people pull their samples from the same database of sound.
“A lot of people are hungry for rock’n’roll music – to have rock’n’roll icons is really important. When I was young, to have strong female role models was really important. And there weren’t many strong, unapologetic, fierce women. So the ones that did exist were really meaningful to me.“
As for their swift return to Australia, Troy is keen to make the most of it this time around. “It was so awesome. We loved it there, but we were sad the trip was so short. We only got to do Sydney and Melbourne. We want to do Brisbane and Perth at some point, we just need to figure out how it can logistically work. I felt really at peace there. The way the weather is, the people are so nice and mellow. I’m originally from San Diego, which is a beach town, so I feel really at home in that beach culture. It’s just gorgeous. Julie is really bummed that she didn’t get to hug a koala though. She’s made it very clear that on the next trip it really needs to happen.”
BY RICK WICKMAN
Deap Vally play a headline show at Oxford Art Factory on Thursday July 25, the night before they make an appearance at Splendour in the Grass on Friday July 26. Sistrionix is out now through Island UK/Universal.