From The Beatles To Brooklyn: Our Interview With Jenny Electrik

We played Dynasty Electric as our Song Of The Day at the end of February. I've been digging their new album, Golden Arrows, for awhile now. So I was very excited to chat with the group's energetic lead singer, Jenny Electrik.

How are you doing today?
I'm good. I'm up on the rooftop in South Williamsburg (Brooklyn) in the sunshine. I just woke up and it looks like it's going to be a beautiful day. How are you?

I'm doing great. First things first, how did you and Seth meet?
At a bar in the East Village. He was waiting for an Internet date and she was late and I was bartending. We just hit it off. We started talking about music and noticed we had a lot of similar interests. He was actually heading to Japan in a few weeks and I was heading to China. He realized I played bass. We were just meeting at the right place and right time.

His date ended up showing up a half hour late. I ended up getting them drunk and he went home with her. I blew him off for a little while. Eventually, I ended up at one of his parties in South Williamsburg at Newsonic Loft.

You guys have a very unique sound. How would you describe it?
It definitely has elements of electronics in it. A lot of the stuff is programmed, we're using computers to create it. But then there's also the live elements: the guitar, the vocals. There used to be even more live instruments in the performance. I played bass initially and also keyboards but then it got to a point where we felt for the live performance, there was no reason a lot of that stuff couldn't be programmed or done by computer which freed me up to use my energetic flow for the theremin and the singing.

You mentioned your live setup. How does that work?
Over the years, we've had so many different incarnations of it, but a lot of the times it was just him and I which triggered the programming and switching off on instruments. We've had a full band before, we've had just a rhythm section. Right now, we're working with a rhythm section from the band Comandante Zero. Seth and I do the elctronics, guitar, theremin, and stuff and they've been the rhythm section but I think we're moving into more of a DJ dubstep with just a drummer. That's what we're in the process of doing now: refining exactly how we're going to represent the live material for touring this summer and in the fall.

CREDIT: Jaime Butler

I definitely think there'll be a heavy visual element to it. A lot of projections, but also a live tribal element. That's what I love to call it: techno tribal, combining natural analog with technology.

Who are your musical influences?
I have a million. Seth came from pure experimental jazz which was really freeform. He went to Wesleyan and had his own experimental music label for awhile.

I grew up really liking the Beatles, their whole message. It's beautiful. I went through a period of listening to Bjork all the time. I really like sitar music. I like Ravi Shankar. I'm starting to really get into dubstep. Stevie Nicks is an amazing iconic performer. Kurt Cobain, Nirvana, wow. To me, it's about the vibration some of these inspiring artists have been able to channel. I really like people who are doing something different, exploring the edge.

Initially it was only experimental, there were no vocals. It was just crazy jazz that we were playing. Eventually, we morphed into exploring pop music, crafting pop songs. We've been succumbing from this crazy experimental approach and refining what it is to make a pop song. And I don't mean, "Let's just make a pop song just for the sake of it!" When you take elements of pop that people can relate to and infuse it with visionary ideas, it can really reach a lot of people.

I love your new album. What's your favorite song on Golden Arrows?
I don't think we realized when we were making it that it was going to end up so diverse. We went into it with a hip hop producer, Ski Beatz. We were doing mostly dance rock stuff at the time. He was doing heavy-hitting hip hop beats. It's kind of remarkable that there's adult contemporary tracks on the album.

It's like a mixtape.
It's crazy! It's like, "Where did this come from?" We were alone in Woodstock in this beautiful house surrounded by moutains and nature and somehow or another, that's what came out.

I really like "Moutain Song," actually. It's funny because that was only supposed to be a demo. We threw it on there at the last minute. We couldn't edit it. Ski Beatz locked the tracks to it. All we could do was get it mastered. We couldn't mix it because the tracks were all together. I really like that song a lot. It's got an amazing vibe to it. It was the last thing we did before we left Woodstock.

It'll always just be a demo, but I guess it's perfect in that demo state.

You mentioned working with Ski Beatz. How did that come about?
We were introduced to Ski Beatz by Damon Dash (co-founder of Roc-A-Fella Records). Damon and some people he was working with decided they wanted to move forward with a new label, a mix of indie rock, hip hop, a little bit of everything. We ended up playing at a showcase on the night of his birthday two years ago. It was so crazy because the sound system was set up on the fly. The speakers had cut out during the performance. People were spilling things on wires that were in the middle of the room.

It was a crazy situation. Sound guys were tripping on acid. Everything was cutting out. People were tripping over things. Somebody unplugged the beats on accident. Seth took the microphone stand and threw it across the room. I looked at him and I was like, "Seth, get the beats back on!" Then I took off my dress, kicked all the drinks off a piano, and we finished the set that way. But [Damon] was totally digging it.

A couple of weeks later, he was like, "Come on over and work with this producer, Ski Beatz." Ski had been down in North Carolina for awhile. He had been out of the scene after Jay-Z and Camp Lo and everyone else he worked with, he skipped the scene. He had just gotten back to the city and we were one of the first artists he collaborated with.

CREDIT: Jeffrey Hagerman
You're playing Summerfest, the eleven-day music festival in Milwaukee, right? How did that happen?
We met the guy who runs the festival several years ago in Delaware. He saw us play and really liked it. He invited us to play Summerfest last summer where we played on the Emerging Artist stage. That went really well. It was an afternoon gig, a few thousand people there. We just got the phone call a few weeks ago and he wanted to know if we wanted to open for Girl Talk.

He writes us an email and shows us pictures. This is going to be a huge show, probably a 7 to 10,000 person show, which is a really great opportunity for us to expose the vibrations. I think it's really going to be a charged atmosphere.

I heard you played in a Beatles cover band. What was that like?
It was me and three other girls. It was cool. We actually toured England when I was a teenager. We played at The Cavern Club.

Oh wow.
It was cool. These two girls would sing, the harmony parts were awesome. Four teenage girls playing Beatles songs was definitely a novelty and we played some big festivals in New England as well.

So were you the female Paul?
No, I was more George because I wasn't playing bass at the time. I was playing guitar.

I've got to ask one more question about that: what was the band called?
It was called Girl.

Cool. I won't keep you much longer. We've got three questions we ask everyone here. Purple Rain or Thriller?
Wow. You know what? They're both pretty fucking amazing. It's hard for me to choose. Maybe Thriller was more influential, but they're both incredible.

Debbie Gibson or Tiffany?
It seems like Debbie Gibson wrote a lot more songs, right? I guess I'll go with that. I wonder what they're doing now? That would be interesting.

They're actually doing a mini tour together this summer.
They are? Good for them. Wow.

Last one: 16 Candles or Pretty In Pink?
Pretty In Pink.

Cool. Well, thanks for taking the time to talk with me today. I enjoyed it.
Thank you so much for support. I really appreciate it. Have a beautiful day.

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