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THE

RADICAL

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THE

RADICAL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF April Salud ASSOCIATE EDITORS Lilian Min Rochelle Shipman CREATIVE DIRECTOR Courtney Farrell WEB DEVELOPER Robert Jackson PHOTOGRAPHERS Macey J. Foronda Flore Diamant John Furth Sam Keeler Youka Nagase Jermaine Ulinwa

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The Radical

Overcoats

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Written by Lilian Min, photographed by Jermaine Ulinwa.

Rationale

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Written by April Salud, photographed by Flore Diamant.

THREE1989

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Written by April Salud, photographed and translated by Youka Nagase.

Habibi

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Written by Lilian Min, photographed by Sam Keeler.

Rooney

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Written by April Salud, photographed by Macey J. Foronda.

Broods

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Written by April Salud, photographed by Macey J. Foronda.

Donna Missal

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Written by Lilian Min, photographed by John Furth.

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F A S H I O N


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Overcoats Music doesn’t always have to tell a specific story; songs can invoke moods as much as memories. But electro-folk duo Overcoats makes music that insists on taking the listener on a narrative journey. We’re lucky they do.

P H O T O G R A P H Y W O R D S

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J E R M A I N E U L I N WA LILIAN MIN


“We’re colleagues, we’re sisters now. It’s an evolving and somewhat confusing relationship, but it’s all good nonetheless.” - JJ Mitchell

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O V E R C O A T S

It’s only days after Halloween when Overcoats takes

members insist that they’re not inherently conflating

the stage at San Francisco’s Warfield Theater. But for

femininity with vulnerability. Some of the current

band members JJ Mitchell and Hana Elion, they never

Overcoats merch bears the slogan “WOMEN RULE,” to

needed the excuse of a holiday to don a costume. The

which Elion succinctly underlines, “Women do rule.” And in

duo is buoyant and rippling in their performance uniform

the act of performing these vulnerabilities for an audience

of slouchy suits, moving in charming asynchronicity to a

that doesn’t know the particular details, Mitchell describes

body of work whose content might belie their jubilant live

a metamorphosis, both of themselves and the experiences

presence.

that have shaped the songs: “At the beginning of touring,

Overcoats — a moniker inspired by a print by Austrian

the songs, all of them felt very poignant, because we had

painter Egon Schiele — began as a tight-knit collaboration

so recently experienced what we were singing about. It

between the two, who met and formed the group at

was actually kind of helpful to sing through them every

Wesleyan College. Over the course of two releases, 2015’s

night, and to use that time to think and process and heal.”

Overcoats EP and their 2017 debut album YOUNG, the

“More recently, we have the same exact emotions that we

band’s sound has grown and ripened into an expansive

were feeling at the time, but they take on new meaning

electro-folk amalgam that somehow still manages to

that, in a way, sometimes describes more recent and

sound lovingly worn in. Their music centers on intricately

sometimes very different events. But the lyrics are vague

and oftentimes hair-raisingly precise harmonies. When

enough that they can be applied to different [things]. It’s

I first listen through YOUNG, I’m reminded of the idea of

nice to use them as a tool to heal every night.”

Greek choruses of old, though Overcoats’ version of this

It helps that despite the pain and uncertainty threaded

kind of meta-narration covers decidedly modern subject

through songs like “The Fog” and “Smaller Than My

matter.

Mother,” Overcoats knows how to perform. Both Mitchell

Over the phone, Mitchell, who appears to be the more

and Elion partake in other artistic mediums, namely visual

animated conversationalist of the two, divulges more of

art, and they clearly care about fashion as a way to make

their narrative process, confirming, “We’re very conscious

a visual and aesthetic statement. But they have a sense

of the storytelling aspect of music.” Overcoats crafted

of play that comes alive when they’re on stage. When

YOUNG with an explicit journey in mind “about how we

I ask them if they did anything for Halloween, Mitchell

each relate to our families and others and who we wanna

deadpans, “We played a show in celebration,” before

be in the world, and how we wanna be women in society.”

adding laughingly, “We tried to wear costumes. We made

It’s a coming of age tale that begins with the familiar

it through like, two songs before we had to take our wigs

archetype of “daddy’s girls” on the track “Father,” but

off … Any time Hana and I looked at each other while

which concludes with an understanding of their mothers’

singing, we would start hysterically laughing because of

devotions on the track named, well, “Mother.”

[them].”

Part of the reason Mitchell and Elion landed on the name

During their Warfield set, they are positively ebullient,

Overcoats was because of its androgynous coding. Their

smiling and dancing along and, even during a cover of

performance suits are another interpretation of the band

“Imagine,” seemingly beaming radiance into the audience,

name, as Mitchell explains, “The suits act as a protective

but also between each other. Their harmonies are so

layer in the same way that Overcoats as a name does. So

interwoven that I have no idea if/when they switch vocal

we can sing this vulnerable music.”

lines, outside of watching the movement of their mouths.

Though Elion adds, “A lot of our music deals with

They play through two new songs toward the end of the

relationships and being a woman in relationships,” both

set; one of them evokes Arcade Fire, and I marvel at how

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O V E R C O A T S

much range, sonically and stylistically, the two of them are

voices sound so different because we developed so much

able to evoke in their music.

and have gotten more ambitious about writing.”

Their camaraderie is easily the most important

That ambition doesn’t come without a learning curve

relationship in all of Overcoats. When I ask them how

though. Mitchell shares, “There’ve been moments on tour

their friendship has changed through the years, Mitchell’s

previously where one of us has lost our voice, badly.” But

kneejerk response is, “We are still friends.” But she

now the duo knows “to split up the high notes so that we’re

elaborates, “We’ve had to figure out new dynamics and

able to share the burden of the screaming cat parts.”

hats to wear. We’re business owners together, of Overcoats

“At this point, we know the songs well enough where we

LLC. We’re colleagues, we’re sisters now. It’s an evolving

can just swap, which has been kind of fun. There’s a lot of

and somewhat confusing relationship, but it’s all good

room to accommodate each other.”

nonetheless.”

So much of YOUNG’s allure lies simply in the deceptively

Both women look out for their most important

simple one-ness of Elion and Mitchell’s timbres. It is

performing tools: Their voices. So much of their singing has

difficult, both during our interview and on the record, to

a tiny margin of error; Elion jokes, “We’ll write songs and be

pick them apart for sure. Perhaps it’s that certainty, obvious

like, ‘We can’t sing this.’ We have to learn how to sing it.”

even through a recording, that they’re stronger together

But their technical ability too has evolved. For YOUNG, they

that makes even the saddest songs on the record sound

enlisted outside producers like Arthur Ashin, who performs

hopeful. And when you watch them on stage, you get the

as Autre Ne Veut, and Elion reflects that Overcoats’ sound

feeling that no matter what comes their way, they’ll find a

is likely to keep growing: “Our writing has pushed our

way to laugh and dance through it.

vocal abilities a lot. When we listen to older recordings, our

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Rationale P H O T O G R A P H Y W O R D S

FLORE DIAMANT

APRIL SALUD

Four years ago, Rationale came into view and with his first single “Fast Lane,” it seemed like that’s exactly how his career was going to go. However, after releasing two EPs, his debut album, and selling out his own headline tour as well as supporting some of the biggest British acts of the moment, Rationale somewhat disappeared. And maybe that was a little bit intentional. Now he’s returned with his new EP High Hopes and while it might be interpreted as a new direction for the singer-songwriter-producer, the results of the shimmery and bright production is just another facet of the multi-dimensional artist that he just hasn’t shown the world yet. THE RAD was the first outlet to interview him back in 2014 and four years is a long time to let people grow but also remain the same. On a Sunday back in October, before the release of High Hopes, Rationale hopped on the phone to talk about his creative process but also to simply catch up with an old friend.

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Do you normally get depressed on Sundays because

R A T I O N A L E

Yup, that’s me.

the week’s about to start?

[laughs] STOP IT! That’s not good, that’s like therapy.

I think I’m just depressed most of the time [laughs]. There

Which, I do that by the way [go to therapy].

are waves of happiness — my job is based on things that come into my head and there’s no way of telling it’s going

You’re always a dangerous one to talk to.

well until you’re miserable. So everything’s great! I’m super,

Because we end up talking about feelings?

super fun to talk to right now [laughs]. No! Because...well you just did it. You told me I Ok great, so nothing’s changed since I last talked to

sounded super confident compared to the first time

you.

we first spoke and I was thinking about how the first

Hey! Hey!

time we spoke was in this type of situation where we had never met [but talked on the phone]. And that was

We haven’t talked in a couple years and right off the

like...four years ago?

bat it’s basically, “I’m really depressed. Things are

Yeah!

going terribly.” This is who I am! This is what it is! No, no. I’m alright

Which is a….really long time when you think about it.

actually. How are you?

Well I guess it depends how you’re quantifying it, right? Are we talking about album cycles or…

Well, I’m….you know. Ha! Should we put off the interview and just talk about

I think that’s just a long time to know someone...as an

how depressed we both are?

adult? Yeah, that’s true.

I mean we could do that. I assumed we’d have two separate conversations. The one where I ask you the

Four years when you’re in school is something that

questions I’m supposed to and you answer the way

just happens. You end up knowing people for decades

you’re supposed to, and then the real talk conversation

because of your environment. But as an adult, despite

about how we’re really doing because it has been

our location, we find a way to come back to each other

awhile since we’ve spoken.

because of our group of friends and the industry we’re

One thing that is interesting though is that you sound

in. We could’ve never spoken again.

more sure of yourself now than back in the day [when

But that is also quite indicative to who I am, in terms of

we first met]. You sound super confident. Nowadays

never talking to people again but now I’m trying to talk to

when people are doing well in life they’ve got this — not

them at some point in time. I’ve become quite accepting of

pompous but you’re not nervous in the slightest. I love

my ways and I’ll probably end up very lonely.

people; I love people’s personalities. Because I spend time Why do you think you do that?

on my own I’m probably more impressed than I should be.

I think I’ve learnt now that I’m so obsessive with what it Well I’m glad I sound like I’m doing something right.

is that I do that I become quite involved in it and I also

I also love those personalities that come off extremely

become quite reclusive in that sense. But I think [not

confident but are secretly crying themselves to sleep at

talking to people] is something I am addressing in life

night.

because I’ve realized — starting a conversation and never

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“When you’re older you start to realize what real friendship is and what love is and that’s an interesting place to be.”

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finishing it but knowing throughout life that conversation

I had to change my routine because the routine from the

was really, really good. Or starting a movie that was really,

last record wouldn’t work. I couldn’t sit there in a room by

really great and the climax was really, really got good but

myself and create stuff. So I started reaching out to my

now I’m just going to go to the loo for a minute but never

friends and realized, oh shit. I haven’t been around for two

finish the movie but knowing for a fact you couldn’t just

years [laughs].

press play on that again. My excuse has always been that I have to go off and be creative but...I probably just feel

You need to live life to make music.

too much. I get too involved with people’s personalities.

Yeah, dude! It’s such an obvious thing. Not that I wasn’t

I almost [stop talking to people] so I don’t end up

having experiences on tour.

disappointed. I’d almost rather take a snapshot of where I was in that time then go back to the studio. The funny

That’s not real life though.

thing about that is in a four year period, for example with

It isn’t. I started thinking to myself, I’d really like have a

you, at my age, the amount of special people in my life

year off and not release music. Unfortunately, the machine

and the people I really care about are probably dwindling.

doesn’t work like that nowadays, at least at the place I was

When you’re older you start to realize what real friendship

at in my career. I kept writing but started writing in a way

is and what love is and that’s an interesting place to be.

that I was happy with what I was doing but not obsessive and do 12 hour days. That’s bullshit. I got really mad into

To answer your question about why I do that or why I

fitness to make me think about something else and make

did that with relationships with people. I don’t know. I’ve

myself feel good. I started a podcast because I realized me

always been obsessive with what I want to get out of

and my friends have amazing conversations and because I

music. It’s actually quite unhealthy.

felt like I wanted to express myself differently and see how the people who followed me felt about that. And through

It is!

all that I realized, it’s not bad to work with other people. It’s

I was speaking to Dan [Smith of Bastille] about it the

not bad to reach out.

other day — about the new single and music in general. I’ve watched him over the last four years dealing with

I say this generally, if you’re in this phase in your career

his stardom and his success and chasing the next thing

— everyone wants a hit, right? No matter what you say,

after you’ve just done an arena tour. But my complex is a

whichever act you are, everyone wants that massive,

bit different. What comes next after you’ve done well but

gargantuan hit on their own merits and it’s not contrived.

didn’t smash the back wall like everyone wanted you to? I

Labels want to put you with every person who has a hit in

think I’m in a really great place. I just wanted to write new

the last five minutes and try to see if something happens

music and stop singing the same songs over and over.

but I had been through that road before. I didn’t want to do it again. I wanted to reach out to people that I want

What has the writing process been like after going on

to work with and because I’ve asked for that relationship

tour and having your debut album?

to happen. That’s what I set out to do with this EP. I just

The writing process this time around has been different

wanted to have to some fun and not worry about what

because I’m not the new kid on the block anymore. So

it was supposed to do. I had to get through that by

that made my writing process very, very difficult because

rediscovering living. To be honest, if I’m really honest, I’m

it’s a lonely business when you’re pressing a bunch of tiny

still learning. I’m still getting those experiences up and

buttons trying to get the right emotion out of a song. I

trying to write more based on life rather than fictional

remember about two months into it I was like, “I’m not

accounts.

doing so great, this isn’t fun right now.” That’s when I knew

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Are you still trying to dissect people and get music

I was just in media for so long and this election just

that way?

killed my brain and I couldn’t do it anymore. So I

Yeaaaah. That’s still kinda my thing.

transitioned into music fully and now do marketing. That’s insane! I feel like you’re a different person now.

That’s why you’re dangerous to talk to! I always feel like I have to be careful of what I say or I’m going to

It’s insane how my brain has changed. Hearing you

end up as a song.

talk about playlisting — it really sucks that a lot of new

I think I’ll always do that, to be fair. When I first came out

artists are D.O.A. now. If you get 10,000 in your first

I was pretty much smashing the new music playlists and

week, I don’t know what to do with that. And it sucks!

landing in the top spots. It’s not like that anymore. First off,

Yeah! Yeah! Because we’re such a numbers driven society

that’s the game now. Streaming is the game. Music has

now, I know that culture messes with creativity and how

changed. Some artists can do a pop tune one day and a

people view music. Because what makes people excited

reggae tune another day and it’s basically chasing playlist

about music isn’t numbers. The simple, everyday person

love. In the four years alone since I last released music...it’s

doesn’t give a shit about how many followers you have on

so hard to sift through and find quality like Future Islands

some app or what playlists you’re on. If that song is special

or early Tame Impala. It almost feels like that doesn’t exist

and makes someone feel a certain way, that’s the wave.

anymore or it doesn’t have a loud enough voice anymore.

Music will always be about what is good, what is great, what is different. Music’s just got to be honest. That’s all it

It’s definitely like that. Since I last spoke to you, it’s

is.

weird for me now doing these interviews and talking directly to artists and being friends with artists because now I’m on the label side. It’s so interesting how my brain has changed. What’s your deal now?

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THREE1989 P H O T O G R A P H Y

&

T R A N S L A T I O N

W O R D S

YOU K A NAGA SE

APRIL SALUD

THREE1989 garnered international attention quickly due to lead singer Shohey Uemura’s appearance on the Netflix acquired reality show, Terrace House. With their catchy jazz-infused pop tunes, the trio are only getting better.

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a vocalist, I’d want to mimic Kubota Toshinobu’s career.

How did you guys meet and when did you know that

He was a pioneer of his genre and spread its popularity

you wanted to form the band together?

throughout all of Japan. I’d hope to do the same and

Datch: We’re all from different places around Japan, but

spread our music nationally.

we went to the same music school and were in the same year. Right around graduation I approached Shimo and

Which other artists’ careers would you like to mimic?

Shohey and asked if they wanted to start a band with the

Shimo: I’d say I want to mimic Sakamoto Ryuichi’s career.

hopes of playing at a festival one day. We weren’t able to

His music is very different from THREE1989’s music, but

play a festival that year, but we got to perform at our first

I really respect him. He does a lot of experimental and

festival called Ringo Festival in September [of this year].

modern music. I admire how he’s able to create pop music

Shohey: Our dream finally came true! In the future, we’d

out of non-pop music.

want to play bigger festivals like Summer Sonic, Fuji Rock, Datch: International artist wise I’d say someone like Dr.

and Greenroom Festival.

Dre. He makes his own songs and creates his own remixes, How has being in the band affected your relationships

and I really enjoy doing that as well. I think it’s great

with each other?

how he’s able to produce music while making his own

Shohey: We were friends to begin with, so nothing has

simultaneously.

really changed. Shohey: I think all three of us would want to take that kind Shimo: We weren’t working together at the time, so it’s

of path in the future. Not only make music as THREE1989,

a little bit of a different dynamic when we’re working

but produce music and such independently. We all

together — the roles and stability we have.

compose and write lyrics for the band so have experience in that area.

Shohey: We treat each other like a family, and we’ve stayed How has the impact of Terrace House changed the way

good friends this entire time.

you write music and also the band’s fanbase? Who are your biggest musical influences growing up?

Shohey: The fanbase has definitely changed. Our audience

Shimo: I originally started listening to punk, and

used to be predominantly older people who were into

transitioned into rock music. Currently I listen to a lot of

classic soul and R&B, but since we’ve been on the show,

jazz music like Chick Corea, jazz piano music. Every single

we’ve had people who’ve never stepped foot into a

person in my family plays an instrument so I grew up in an

livehouse. We’re glad that we helped people to experience

environment where we only talked about music. Our family

what live music is like and discover what Japanese music is

played as a band. You can find a home video of me playing

all about. We’ve get a lot of younger people showing up at

the castanet with the family band when I was around 2 or

our shows now.

3. Datch: We’ve also been getting a lot of listeners from Shohey: Our genre is Jazz, City Pop, Dance music, so we

abroad! Foreigners would visit Tokyo and send messages

get inspiration from musicians like Bruno Mars, as well as

to Shohey through social media, asking if we are

many acid jazz musicians like Jamiroquai and Brand New

performing during certain weeks.

Heavies. We take qualities from different genres like black music, jazz music, 80’s disco, and soul music. For me, as

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“After being on Terrace House I started to focus on writing more about my own experiences and interactions with people I meet in real life.� - Shohey

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Shohey: As for our songwriting, we used to get some

Datch: We were also saying we’d want to play at the

inspiration from movies or books, but after being on

Olympics (laughs). But on a more serious note, we would

Terrace House I started to focus on writing more about my

definitely want to tour internationally someday. Our

own experiences and interactions with people I meet in

international audience is growing so much.

real life. Shohey: Definitely. Playing around East Asia would be cool, Datch: Shohey would usually start writing lyrics, and we

but surprisingly a lot of the messages we receive are from

would create a track to accommodate the lyrics. But while

Europe, especially Paris, so we’d love to play there next year

he was at Terrace House, Shimo and I had a lot of time

or next next year.

with just the two of us so we would start making tracks and send them Shohey, which then he would create lyrics

Are there any other Japanese artists you think other

to. We’ve had the opportunity to approach songwriting in

people should be more aware of?

different ways.

Shimo and Shohey: Sukisha!

What do you think is your biggest accomplishment as

Shohey: Chelmico as well. It’s two female rappers.

a band? Datch: The reason we started this band was to perform

What would you like people to take away from your

at a festival and we finally got to do that this year at Ringo

music?

Festival in Nagoya. It was such a big accomplishment

Shohey: I just want people to listen to our songs while

because we worked hard and auditioned for a spot. It

walking in a nice scenic area, with a feel-good and relaxed

wasn’t handed to us on a silver platter. We‘re really happy

attitude. I think our songs really set the mood wherever

about it.

you are. I’d want someone to listen to “High Times” when walking from the station to back home, and think about

What are your goals with the band?

someone they love. Listening alone is key. We want people

Shohey: Our ultimate goal is to be on Kohaku. It’s an

to listen to our songs properly and focus on the lyrics, and

annual tv show broadcasted live on New Year’s Eve where

hopefully relate it to their own lives.

popular artists of that year go on to perform. It’s a show that everyone watches so it would be honorable to get a spot on there.

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Habibi P H O T O G R A P H Y W O R D S

SAM KEELER

LILIAN MIN

Even if you didn’t know that “Habibi” literally meant “my love” in Arabic, you — a casual observer, a listener — would come back to the word. It’s the kind of endearment that can be instantly IDed across cultures, in the same way that you feel the warmth of nuna (Korean for older sister) or lola (tagalog for grandmother). It’s not a surprise, then, that the Brooklyn-by-way-of-Detroit band Habibi has a following that coalesces around this feeling of warmth. When the band played Oakland’s Starline Social Club this past October, it wasn’t the frisson of chill fall air that brought the room’s occupants closer into each other. Over the course of the decade, Habibi the band has slinked its way into listeners’ ears with a potent mix of just shy of lo-fi production and uncomplicated lyricism. I personally never receive more “Who is this?” asks than when I play the band’s self-titled album (from 2014) or its latest EP (Cardamom Garden, from 2018) in my communal workplace. It’s not as though the band is pioneering new lyrical topics — “Bad News,” a song from their upcoming sophomore album, is about a man who’s bad news — but Habibi sounds like it’s time traveled from decades past to not warn, but warm modern listeners up to these everlasting follies of love. Over the phone, The RAD talked to drummer Karen Isabel (who also played in the Habibi-adjacent band PMS & the Mood Swings) about returning to Habibi after a three-year hiatus, songwriting in New York, and cats.

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Habibi was on hiatus for a little bit. How has it been,

on her guitar, and she’ll text it to us. “Oh, I have this great

coming back to this project and being on the road

idea.” Everyone mulls it over in their head and then we go

representing it again?

to practice. Rahill [Jamalifard] will write lyrics and she’ll say,

We didn’t really switch it off. We were on this tour all

“I want it to go on this rhythm.” Somebody comes up with a

summer... We’ve been spending most of our time recording

thing and they show it to everybody.

music and working on our new music. We played Lincoln

It’s different in New York; in New York, you don’t really have

Center and MoMA. Even when we’re not playing shows, we’re

the space per se. You have to pay hourly. We pay hourly, so

recording, which is taking a few months. It’s worth it.

we only go there if we have something in mind. There’s not a lot of time for just jamming, and we’re not big jammers

You’re recording a new album on the heels of your EP

anyway.

Cardamom Garden (released in March 2018). If it has,

It’s wild that we’ve been classified as psychedelic. We’re

how has your songwriting process changed even over

like, “Really though?” I have a completely different idea in my

the course of the year?

head about the music we make.

We’re more patient. We’ve gotten older; we have a bigger idea of what we wanna do musically. We’re not just trying to

How would you classify or fit your music in with other

push anything out anymore. It’s a burden of love for us. We

genre archetypes?

try to put as much time into it as possible. Whereas before,

To be honest, it is what it is. I have no idea. Any time

it was like, we’re gonna record this and call it a day. Go out

someone asks me that, I’m like, “Uhhhh.”

and do some other things. Now we’re like, no, we have ideas

Our biggest influences are the ‘70s. There’s the psych

we wanna see through. Almost like, Phil Spector it. More

element in that, but a lot of our songs are all so different from

production.

each other. We’re practicing with Alana [Amram], our go-to other member for a while now. This new song we’re playing,

Habibi as a project in the public eye has evolved too.

from the new album, we’re playing it on tour and she’s like,

When you reflect on that time, what was it like to

“This one sounds like a New Order song! That sounds like

suddenly be launched into this national spotlight from

early ‘80s new wave!”

the very first thing you’d worked on together?

We’re all so different from each other, so when one of us

It doesn’t feel too much different. We still go to work; we

has an idea, it just goes in that direction. It’s literally a hodge

still do our things. It’s still like, we’re all just best buddies

podge of insanity.

having fun, playing music together. We do it ‘cause we love to do it. We love hanging out with each other. I don’t see that

I dug into some of the playlists that the individual band

aspect of it at all.

members have put together, and yeah, you’re pulling from some very different influences. I also dug into your

Maybe part of that has to do with the almost

Instagram. Your cats are adorable.

psychedelic, jam session-y sound of your work together.

We were on a plane yesterday, and Lenny cracked me up.

Going with the flow of the music; or at least my

There was a cat on the plane, and it got me thinking, “That

conception of your music. Do you tend to riff off of each

would be the life. Being able to take my cats on tour with

other and refine from there, or do you start with a set

me.” So this cat, for six hours, was meowing along. Finally we

structure and tease it apart?

land. Lenny was like, “Release the cat! Release him!”

Mostly [the latter]. Lenny [née Lenaya Lynch] will come up with something; she’ll record it in her apartment, fiddling

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tweaking your show or experimenting with new

For people who don’t understand the realities of touring, the idea of traveling all over the country, the

songs on the road?

world, is really seductive in this way that’s like, it’s

It depends on the mood. It’s pretty natural; however

still your job. You still have to care about maintaining

we’re feeling that day. We have a bajillion songs right

your health; all these little things. How have you

now, so right now, we’re more focused on playing the

personally dealt with the stress that travel can bring

Cardamom Garden songs.

on? How do you maintain your dyed hair on the

Honestly, we just try to do whatever on a daily basis,

road?

what we think is best. Whatever we’re happy with, is

I was talking with some friends here about touring a

what we go with. What the crowd would be happy with.

lot. People always assume like, oh, we did this world tour this year, that’s amazing! You went to all these countries!

Do you find a different reception to your songs, to

Technically, it could’ve been the same town over and

your live shows, from coast to coast? You’re based

over again. You literally step off a plane, see the inside of

in New York now, so what’s it like playing the west

the hotel room, go to the venue, play the show. Go back

coast?

to the hotel or get in the van and go to the next place.

I love the west coast! The west coast is the bee’s knees.

It’s the first time I’ve left the country in my entire

People come out and they’re super hype. We have our

life, and it’s like, okay, I went to China, but I didn’t see

Burger [Records] brothers out here, and they come

anything. As far as like, keeping it together... We all have

through and it’s an automatic party time.

our different means. I don’t dye my hair on the road

I wish we were able to do this more often, but we’re all

because if I screw it up, I have to wait until the next city.

so busy in New York and everything. The audience out

I might as well shave my head. We try to eat as healthy

here is super receptive and chill.

as possible? I can’t say we’re that good at that game. We I feel like Habibi’s music actually fits better with the

just try to take care of ourselves.

west coast aesthetic. When I found out you were You mentioned you’ve done a couple one-off

based in Brooklyn, I was like, “Oh, I don’t know if I’ve

performances, like the MoMA show. For those kinds

ever met a New Yorker who sounds this relaxed.”

of showcases versus “regular tour shows,” is your preparation any different? Do you have more time to

Rahill and Lenny are from Motown. Me, I’m Puerto

prepare, more freedom in your visual presentation or

Rican, so we have that drum aspect. We’re gonna sound

your sets?

beachy. We have Rockaway Beach! And the Ramones.

We think about our audience and what they wanna

But on the west coast, you can actually go into the water.

hear. We’re not gonna put a slow jam on in a situation where like, these people wanna get hype.

We’re playing Tijuana after this show. Right now we’re

We always have different people doing visuals. Rahill

thinking about going to the Madonna Inn; we’re trying

always looks up, or Lenny looks up stuff online. A movie

to treat this as a vacation because we’re on the west

or a TV show they remember seeing. Every time it’s

coast for ten days. We’re trying to go to Legoland in San

different; you can’t do the same thing twice. People

Diego. This is the first time we’re doing a tour where it

become stagnant and bored.

feels like we can go on adventures. Then we’ll be in LA for a minute. And I’m gonna try to go to Disneyland; I’ve

Even when you’re touring something specific,

never been.

for yourselves, how much leeway do you have for

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ROONEY Rooney have always been that cool band that was the soundtrack to your teenage years and Robert Schwartzman was the ultimate frontman of your dreams. After taking a long hiatus, the band returned in 2016 fully recharged as ever. The pure charm of Rooney is that, unlike their peers, they fully embrace their nostalgia brand and by doing so, they’re able to thrive in a world that would’ve normally put an expiration date on them.

P H O T O G R A P H Y W O R D S

M AC E Y J. FORON DA

APRIL SALUD

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You guys took a long hiatus and then came back a couple of years ago. Ever since then, I feel like it’s been nonstop. What has made you want to keep going instead of it being a one-off return and retreating back again? In taking time off, I just had a new appreciation for Rooney as a project. I felt excited that this thing existed and that I could pick up where I left off. I felt really lucky to have a band like Rooney. There’s so many bands out there just trying to get on the path in some way and it’s so hard to do and there was a lot of time put into this project so it feels nice to have a home base to come back to. It’s easy to take things for granted and after doing it for so many years back then, I think taking a break was really necessary. After leaving I feel almost excited and recharged to be back where I am.

Which I think is a good philosophy to work with. Going off of that, the music industry has evolved and changed so much. So much. Especially since we started — like night and day and that’s no surprise. When we first start, Napster had just come out. Oh my god, you’re right. That’s exactly when it happened. Right when it happened! Before we got signed, these Limewire, file sharing sites started popping up but Interscope still signed us and gave us a good record deal because they believed in the band. So we were able to navigate a little better during that time. But yeah, you used to ship CDs out and you would try to do pre-orders with maybe Best Buy and they’d tell you, “We shipped X amount of CDs.” We’d do in-stores at CD stores but that was a whole ‘nother time. Music has always been music. What we’re doing tonight is no different than it was 18 years ago.

How do you think you’ve evolved as a band? Maybe this is just my theory, for some bands, the word “evolve” is thrown around a lot because people want to evolve as artists and a lot of the time people like artists who have done a lot of different stuff in their music. Throughout history, there are a lot of people who have changed — maybe sometimes for the best and maybe sometimes for the worst — but I also love artists who do their thing and you know kinda what you’re going to get, and that’s okay. I’ve come to appreciate that type of evolution, like this is who I am and this who I need to be to survive in this climate. In some ways, I’ve done that with Rooney. I always try to stay true to what I think the Rooney project is. I just don’t want to abandon what I’ve done in the past. I don’t want to avoid what people want to hear.

It’s just the way it’s being serviced that’s different. Every band used to play live. Technology has changed so you can do different things on stage. The biggest difference is that CDs went away which means albums went away. CDs were created to store a lot of information — it’s like a hard drive. Today a lot of stuff is in the cloud. The need for space has gone away because you have access to everything all the time through good connection. Music is just following technology. Were there ways to prevent this? I don’t know. For someone who has been in the game for so long, left but then wanted to come back to it and now has stayed in it, where do you see Rooney going now? When the band was on hiatus, there wasn’t really a dialogue with fans — the socials were basically frozen. It’s like leaving a car out in a field and it gets rusted and it might not start anymore. Like you get into the car and the engine doesn’t work anymore.

And you want to celebrate that. Totally. I think the trick there is wanting people to be accepting of us to be able to evolve. Because sometimes fans don’t want bands to change; they want you to remain the thing that they started liking you for. A lot of the time, I see people on social media wanting to relive that day in high school or 18-year-old them at a show — and that’s fine. Whatever makes people happy is all that matters but from my perspective, we’re not just here to make the 18-year-old version of you happy. We want to make you happy now.

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Whatever makes people happ from my perspective, we’re n 18-year-old version of you hap happy now.


py is all that matters but not just here to make the ppy. We want to make you - Robert Schwartzman


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so to speak. To headline and play the venues I want to play and really be in charge of the messaging. I think that’s the new version of Rooney and taking a project that was from the major label world — it did start off independent actually and got signed to a major but we operated as an indie within a major. But I wanted to bring it back to full independent and here we are being fully DIY. It’s really challenging but rewarding

That’s really sad. Yeah it sucks! But I hope we were able to start it again and give it a good wash and it’s still in good shape. When we did this whole Rooney re-release in 2016 with Washed Away, it was sort like a reboot. Did it feel like a debut album? Kind of. It was a new batch of music for people. We didn’t re-record an old Rooney record, you know? I’m constantly trying to figure out what to do next with Rooney. Times have changed and I’ve always tried new things like right now I’m directing movies and I get to write music for those movies but it takes time away from being a full-timed band person. There were times where I felt a little burnt out on Rooney and it started to not be fun. I didn’t understand what it meant. Sometimes you just have ask yourself why? Why am I still putting time and energy into this thing? It took me a minute to come back to and see the parts that I do love about it and embrace those parts. I just want to put music out so I’m not sitting on it, which I what I was doing for years. To tour frequently, on my own terms

. Is there anything else you’d like to accomplish? I’ve directed a new movie coming out in February and I want to shoot another movie straight away. I’d love to a Rooney LP. I really want to do a Rooney cover album. That would be SO GREAT. I think your fans would love that. I would love to hear the Rooney spin on so many tracks. The cool thing about covers is that you can take something that people know but expose them to parts of it that they might not have noticed. I’d love to do that.

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P H O T O G R A P H Y

Broods

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Broods is back and they’re different, yet again. The

You guys started so young. Do you feel — even

brother-sister duo consisting of Georgia and Caleb Nott

though they are so different from each other — like

have gone through the ringer together over the last few

these albums do serve as some sort of trilogy of who

years since their debut album Evergreen in 2014. From

you were and who you’ve become?

several sound changes over the course of the short but strong tenure, this time around they even went from a

Caleb: No, I think because we’re still going. We’re only

major label to an indie one, where they now feel like they

growing more into it. We want to be changing all the

are fully free to be who they’ve become. We sat down

time.

with Georgia and Caleb right before they set off to open

Georgia: I do think when you are in your early twenties

for Taylor Swift to talk about their growing pains and

or just general twenties, there’s so much dense growth.

how they’ve found strength in each other over the years.

You get shit on so many times and turn into so many different people.

We’ve talked several times over the course of your

Caleb: Yeah, you think you’ve totally figured it out and

career; from the first album to the change in your

then one day you’re like, “Fuck, who am I?”

second album so I feel very involved.

Georgia: [The first album] was a good representation

Georgia: You’ve watched us grow up!

of who we were then and the second album a good representation of what we were going through at that

I have! And with the new music, it’s obviously very

point. I think with this one though, because we did it all

different from the previous two projects. So what

by ourselves, it does feel a bit more genuine. My cousin,

has it been like going from album one to album two

when she first watched the video [for “Peach”], she told

to where you are now?

me she almost cried. Not because she was sad but

Georgia: I think this was particularly different because

because she felt we were finally showing our real selves

we had the whole label change as well. We pretty much

for the first time.

wrote the whole album while we were independent. Caleb: We had no one that said we were doing it wrong

Was there any particular sound you were trying to

or that we should do it a certain way. We really made the

strive for?

album that we wanted to make. And at the end, it was

Caleb: I actually think we were inspired by stuff we used

like, “Okay who wants to jump on board with us?”

to listen to more on this record. Georgia: I love listening to stuff before I was even alive.

Was that freeing?

It’s almost like I’m reliving my past life [laughs].

Both: Yeah! But it was scary. Georgia: It was strange because it was about a full year

And now you guys call LA your home base.

of being independent and it was like...oh no is this going

Georgia: Yeah, we’ve been here for three years now and

to work out? It was cool though because it made us

it’s completely changed how we see things. It’s like an

really depend on ourselves and made us make stuff that

echo chamber. We’ve definitely been exposed to so

we enjoyed playing and that means something to us. We

much more diverse people.

didn’t have to meet any expectations with this album.

Caleb: Everyone can be what they want.

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Do you feel like you can be yourself here more?

And how do you feel your relationship has changed

Georgia: Ourself right now, yes.

with each other over the course of all this? Georgia: Because we’ve changed so much, anything

You guys are so open to change. Do you have a fear

we’ve had to face — from changing labels to wondering

of alienating the audiences you’ve built on the first

whether or not we were still going to do this.

two albums?

Caleb: We’re very good about changing in the same

Georgia: That was something we had to be really careful

direction, musically and as a people.

with. Especially when putting together the new live

Georgia: Because we’ve been away from home together

show. We would’ve loved to take off all the old stuff and

and in LA for three years. We’ve experienced the really

only play the new stuff. But we do have to respect our

high highs and the low lows together. Everything has

past selves and our past albums and what they did for us

been so intense, it’s been important that we rely on each

and the fans they’ve got us.

other.

Caleb: My favorite bands are the ones that sound It is like a survival tactic.

different every time. I respect that they’re on this trajectory of how they feel they should go and I’m just

George: Yeah and it’s important that we have someone

there for the ride.

to be vulnerable with it. I know I can fall off the edge and As a person too, your listening habits change

have someone to catch me. But it’s also a lot of fun to

constantly. What you want to listen to in the

look over to the person next to you and go, “Fuck yeah,

morning isn’t what you want to listen to at night.

this is awesome.”

Georgia: Exactly! It changes hour to hour. What do you ultimately want people to get out of the new music? Georgia: Honestly, just excitement. Everything is very in your face. There are so many different songs on the album but it is very straight to the point of this is what I want to do, this is how I want to feel. People can relate to that I think.

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Donna Missal P H O T O G R A P H Y W O R D S

JOH N F U RT H

LILIAN MIN

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Donna Missal’s voice hits you like a

at a vocational school.) She grew

buckshot. It’s gravelly and bracing,

up with five siblings close in age;

and she stretches it into visceral

her 18-year-old brother is actually

almost-howls to chilling effect. This

a member of her touring band,

much was obvious on “Keep Lying,”

a fact that “touches me! It’s part

the demo that appeared (read: it

of how I’ve always wanted to run

“I approach songwriting in a theatrical way, and I think about the way it’ll play live.”

was leaked) on the

this business.” She’s effusive in her

internet in 2015.

obvious affection for the support and

And on her debut

foundation her family’s offered her:

album This Time,

“My parents have always been really

which dropped on

supportive of our creativity and our

September 7, Missal

strangeness. They insulated us with a

keeps the fire from

lot of acceptance.”

that choice cut

Missal’s grandmother was a

burning throughout.

songwriter, and her son (Missal’s dad)

That isn’t surprising,

was an industry multi-hyphenate

but the wickedly delicious part is

who ran a studio and encouraged

how well she’s been able to cut that

all of his children to pursue their

fire with cool tenderness, and how

creative dreams. For Missal, that

both elements work together to

originally meant writing songs for

present the depth of Missal’s range

other people. Collaborators include

as a singer-songwriter.

Macklemore and Rudimental, but

“I approach songwriting in a

part of the original reason she leaked

theatrical way, and I think about the

“Keep Lying” is so that she could hold

way it’ll play live. A lot of this album

onto the song before it was, as per

came together with that in mind,”

the industry, snapped up by another

Missal shares over the phone. She’s

interested artist.

just wrapped an opener run for

Missal is thoughtful about the

Bishop Briggs, and she’s in Baltimore

nuts and bolts of musicianship in

preparing for the first night of her

the modern age: “The way that the

opener run with Joywave and Sir

industry churns out new artists is,

Sly. Though Missal’s been steeped

if you don’t have a body of work

in music almost her entire life — her

behind you, you make an EP and on

dad began recording her singing

that EP, you have the single. That

when she was 4 — the live touring

single gets pushed to radio, and you

aspect is still somewhat new.

circulate your EP on Spotify, and then

Missal was homeschooled in

turn that EP into an album maybe

Marlton, New Jersey for most of

a year later, after doing a couple big

her childhood. (In high school,

features. That’s how it seems to be,

she attended a theater program

the process for a lot of artists coming

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up in the digital age of music. You

on presenting “myself in a way that

wanna give the audience something

was realistic and natural and true to

digestible.”

form. The reasons for those images

But while she’d steadily been

was to say like, this is my real body.

releasing music, covers and original

This is what I look like; this is who I

tracks and singles, for years, Missal always had her sights set on a full-fledged album, declaring, “I wanted a body of work. So instead of going the route of releasing an EP, I thought it’d be cool to instead start leaking songs that I knew would be on the album. That way it made you feel like you were, every time a song came out, getting a step closer to the inevitable, which was the album.” Part of her vision of This Time, whose name arises out of Missal’s observation that “the concept of time was stringing all of [the songs] together and creating the narrative of the record,” included a visual/ video element. The album’s cover is the capstone of a meta-narrative threaded throughout her music videos, of a woman coming to terms of who she is; what she wants; and the forces, outside and interior, working against her. She arrives on the cover of This Time resplendent and powerful and whole, which to Missal meant “standing really firmly and solidly, in a power suit. Here I am!” As for the self-admittedly “voyeuristic” images that make up

am. I’m flawed, I’m imperfect, and

the single artwork for “Girl,” “Driving,”

I’m accepting of that.”

and “Thrills,” Missal meant for them

That mission statement neatly

to come from a single photoshoot,

dovetails into the themes on the

with their genesis in her insistence

album, which pulls from her years

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of songwriting experience but really came together in

‘Transformer Pen’ … ‘Jupiter’ is the name of the synth that

the past year, during weeks-long studio stretches in

was used to create that line that runs through the song.

San Francisco and Los Angeles with producers Nate

No ethereal ties; it’s not about constellations or planets.

Merceneau and Tim Anderson. Missal sums up the

Not about space, no aliens. Just my bad habits.”

album’s themes loosely as “self-discovery and self-ac-

Missal admits to favoring “classical” pop structures,

ceptance and self-love and self-understanding.” Though

but her different levels of delivery give her range

songs like “Keep Lying,” “Thrills,” and “Transformer” come

— emotional, vocal, and performative. Much of the

off as torch songs, “Driving,” “Skyline,” and title track

feedback about Missal’s live shows online is that of

“This Time” are much gentler vignettes. All of her songs

shock: That the songs are so fucking good, and that she

feel propelled toward a Big Finish; the difference is that

performs them with an intensity that can’t help but turn

some tracks deliver on that, while others shy away from

heads, even from notorious jading opening crowds.

such an obvious resolution.

And though Missal’s already dealing with some

Missal credits her songwriting style to growing up

social media negativity, she emphasizes that her rising

listening to the canonical greats — Fleetwood Mac and

profile can’t be anything but a boon, a way to foster

Aretha Franklin, among others — but also the wealth

connectivity with both those fans who’ve been following

of ‘90s R&B from her childhood; artists like Destiny’s

her for years and people just discovering her music at

Child, Alicia Keys, 3LW, and TLC. You can hear shades of

shows. These direct channels, which can evolve into

Rihanna-voice on “Skyline.” A less immediately obvious

sources of stress, for the time being “[make] me breathe

influence on This Time is the similarly introspective

a little easier. It’s not all for nothing… like, ‘I just wanna let

and incendiary Sharon Van Etten. Several songs on the

you know that your album really helped me out.’”

album are joint efforts between the two, including the

The next thing Missal has her eye on is a full-fledged

standouts “Jupiter” and “This Time.”

headlining tour of her own, tentatively coming together

Though the album’s tracks all have evocative titles,

for early next year. Her name at the top of the bill and

Missal admits that they’re often completely unrelated

“the stage design, things that I’ve always wanted to

to whatever moment or mood she’s writing about: “The

do but never had the opportunity.” This Time came

song ‘Transformer,’ the first time I wrote those lyrics

together as a record, in both senses, of Missal’s creative

was using a pen that I borrowed from the studio that

emergence, so it’s understandable that her main goal

was a Transformer pen. Like, the robots. When I used

now is seeing it through. The rest of us will wait with

it to write, the robot guy moved. So I named the song

bated breath to hear what comes next.

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Profile for THE RADICAL

THE RADICAL ISSUE 9 // DECEMBER 2018  

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