INTERVIEW: She’s So Rad
Nostalgia has never been so in as it is right now. Be it 80s funk rnb and pop, classic southern rock or 90s shoegaze- music is looking back. The fun thing is that with the advantages of hindsight artists are able to delve into all these influences and make something new and wonderful with it. And that’s exactly what New Zealand’s She’s So Rad have done.
Teaming up with singer Anji Sami and Tom Healy, producer Jeremy Toy has put together irresistably hazy lo-fi pop sounds that you will find hard to get out of your head. Their debut In Circles grabbed a lot of people’s attention including Ladyhawke who they toured with in the UK just recently.
With the release of their upcoming second album everything seems to be falling into place for the trio, I caught up with Jeremy to chat about music, life and things.
Who are ‘She’s So Rad’?
We are a 3 piece band from Auckland, New Zealand:
Jeremy Toy (myself) - Guitar, Vocals, Drum Machines
Anji Sami - Keyboards, Vocals
Tom Healy - Bass
How did it all come together?
I had been playing in various bands in the late 2000’s and was not entirely happy with the direction they were going in so I started writing my own music, She’s So Rad’s first album ‘In Circles’ is a result of me in my home studio writing and recording music in a style that I love. As the songs started developing I found that Anji Sami’s vocals worked really well with mine and her voice helped make the vocals sound unique and really solid.
How do you approach the writing/recording process?
I like to work from home where I am comfortable creating music. Writing and demoing tunes is done all at once, on pro tools. It usually starts with a drum machine loop and some fuzzed out guitars, then some synths and vocals. Anji plays some synths and once I have an idea for vocals she comes in and sorts them out and fixes the melodies. I try to keep things moving as fast as possible as not get hung up on idea’s that don’t work and focus on the ideas that are exciting and new sounding.
What kind of things can inspire a new song?
Heaps of things can spark off idea’s for songs. Listening to old Townes Van Zandt or Steve Earle tunes, so much music i find inspiring from Creation records stuff to the new Roots records to early Motown and girl group records. Sometimes it is anxiety in the form of ‘must create, must create, must create!’ that becomes the inspiration to get in the studio and push record.
Obviously 90s shoegaze is a big influence- What other influences make up ‘She’s So Rad’?
So much 90’s music I love, especially that era Smashing Pumpkins, Dinosaur Jr, Sebadoh etc. That is the music I grew up listening to so that is the obvious influence. Further afield I would say things like early 80’s boogie and the techno-side of disco are a big influence in terms of their aesthetic and drum machine usage. I absolutely love golden era and also Rawkus Records style hip hop, the creativity and aesthetic in records of that era is so intriguing to me.
How did the relationship with Ladyhawke come about?
We became friends after she moved to New Zealand after two years of her touring her first record. We had common ground as we grew up listening to the same music and as it turns out we both played a few punk rock festivals together back in the day. Also I worked as an engineer for her on a remix she did for Alex Winston which was an awesome experience, Ladyhawke is so efficient and fast in the studio and can play every instrument (note: every just means guitars keyboards, gadgets and drums, not woodwind or brass).
What do you think of the New Zealand music scene? As it seems to be getting a lot more attention in recent years, any acts you’re really excited about (other than yourselves ;)
There are a few different music scene’s in New Zealand, all of which are extremely healthy and rife with music. It’s a tiny place but we have exceptional musicians. It seems to be a place where music can develop on it’s own without the musical environment influencing creativity too much so you get artists that sound very unique, some awesome and some bad. International attention seems to sway from heaps to nothing, it’s good that there seems to be positive attention happening at the moment.
Artists that are exciting me from New Zealand at present are:
James Duncan - He has a brand new album out and it is out of this world, totally worth checking out.
Julien Dyne - He is making the best what I guess is ‘Future Beats’ from NZ. He is always ahead of the game.
The Sami Sisters - Anji Sami from She’s So Rad is 1/3rd of The Sami Sisters, really awesome heartfelt songs, look out for a new acoustic record from them.
Tyra Hammond (ex. Opensouls/Tyra and the Tornadoes)- She is the heaviest soul singer I have ever played with. I have been working on an E.P for her over the past 6 months. It will be released soon.
Boycrush - A fellow Red Bull Music Academy attendee, he is writing some next level indie/pop stuff that is totally hot.
I have a few albums and artists I’ll always go back to whatever mood I’m in- who or what are your ones?
Teenage Fanclub - Bandwagonesque
Grandaddy - Sumday
Beck - Seachange
Gun to your head- one song and one album you’d have to listen to for the rest of your life?
Song - It’s All Over Now Baby Blue - The Byrds
Album - Neil Young - Harvest
What song is on repeat for you at the moment?
James Duncan - You Better Wait
What are you ‘super’ into at the moment (tv show, film, book, whatever!)?
Curb Your Enthusiasm is probably top of the list right now.
Anji is watching Game of Thrones, she is the most qualified of television watchers in the band.
What’s next for ‘She’s So Rad’?
We are working on our second album. We are getting very close to some sort of generally good outcome! It’s at the fun stage of experimenting with styles and seeing what boundaries we can push.
This is I Think You’ll Like This Song- What song do you think we’d like?
With the danger of sounding like I am just repeating myself, here goes… ”You’d Better Wait”
Yeah, “You’d Better Wait” is amazing.