Half an hour before doors, there was already a line snaking outside of New York City’s Webster Hall. And though Wolfmother, a classic rock group from down under, was headlining the grand ballroom, I suspect I wasn’t the only one lined up for the opening act. Deap Vally is a girl-power duo from L.A., made up originally of Lindsey Troy on guitar and Julie Edwards on drums, who play grungy, garage rock with killer riffs and aggressive percussion. In 2013, the pair released their debut, Sistrionix, which gained them fans all over the world, including one particularly dedicated fan right here in NYC; Sistrionix has been a staple in my collection for years, and I happily pass it down to people who ask for music recommendations. After having watched countless YouTube videos of Troy and Edwards’ raucous live shows, I was eagerly expecting a high-powered performance… and I definitely wasn’t disappointed.
Prior to the show, I sat down with guitarist Lindsey Troy in her dressing room, and she was every bit as cool as I imagined she would be. Wearing a leopard print one piece and sporting tousled black hair, she seemed totally at ease– despite her impending performance to a packed crowd– a fact heightened by her laid back, West Coast accent. Unfortunately Julie Edwards is on a break from the touring life due to, as Troy put it, maternity leave, but Liv Marsico has been doing a fine job of filling in, having tallied over 20 gigs already.
Considering that I’ve listened to Sistrionix on repeat for years, and “Woman of Intention” and “Raw Material” at least once a day (not an exaggeration), I was beyond excited to have the opportunity to ask Troy about the group’s upcoming album. They cut the record on, of all places, the largest pecan farm in the US, and over the years sporadically worked with Nick Zinner from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Troy told me that they got to know the “very sweet” Nick well when the two bands toured together. Not to mention that since the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are also a guitar + drum band, it made sense for Zinner to offer his magic touch on the new record.
I asked why the ladies picked “Royal Jelly” for their first single, and Troy explained that it felt like a good bridge between the sound on their debut and the ways they’ve matured that sound on their sophomore release. Plus, when they sent over tracks to their friend Georgia May Jagger, she responded really well to “Royal Jelly,” and wanted to get involved (she’s featured in the music video). Jagger even brought a French makeup artist along to work on the video, styling the girls in over the top, dramatic looks, which complemented their glam rock outfits. Though Jagger’s in the exclusive group of Rock ’n’ Roll royalty, Troy confessed that she is a really great friend as well as a huge supporter and fan of the band, and that she was excited to work with the pair on their video.
Beyond the singles, Troy expressed her excitement about the record as a whole- there are plenty of new tracks, she told me, that she can’t wait to release and play live (and I for one am equally if not more psyched). Towards the end of the interview, Troy had to pause for a minute to consider my final question- what wouldn’t she want someone to say about the new record? Well, she said, it would be nice if people would stop reducing her and Edwards’ work to “angsty girl music.” Reductive indeed. Deap Vally makes music that is raw and real, and Sistrionix was packed with powerful messages about owning who you are and not ever apologizing.
Not long after I left the dressing room, I returned to the main floor to watch the gig. Troy came onstage wearing an expectedly awesome jumpsuit: half tiger print, half leopard. Marisco wore a metallic pink shirt with tassels on the chest. Their costumes took me back to when I first heard about Deap Vally, and was immediately attracted to their ’70s glam rock wardrobe, which Troy told me has always been a big aesthetic for the band. They work with designers like Kitten Hawk, and come up with over the top, eye catching outfits that set them apart from the basic t-shirt and jeans clad bands we’re used to seeing. After all, why not dress like rockstars?
But props and wardrobe aside, the set was amazing from start to finish. The pair opened with “Bad For My Body,” during which Troy used her guitar to mimic an engine revving. They also played “Walk of Shame” and “End of the World,” both of which sounded even better live than they did on the album, with a wild energy. Each track translated so well onstage, that even though they were resigned to the opening slot, the crowd couldn’t help moving to the music. They finished off their set with “Royal Jelly,” Troy starting off the song standing up on the drums and plucking away the first few captivating chords while Marisco shook a maraca. They started their set strong, but somehow managed to gain strength as they went along, powering through to the end. I’d put money on the fact that Deap Vally converted plenty of new fans that night. I can’t wait to hear the new music, and find out what’s up next for these dynamics, badass rockers.
– Claudia Arnoldo