Interview: Golden days: Whitney

Golden days: Whitney

A sweet-hearted new project ready to take over the world? Not quite. They just wanna dance with somebody.

“Which celebrity do you wanna play darts with?” asks Julien Ehrlich, who previously drummed in Smith Westerns and now fronts and drums in Whitney, a band who’ve proven one of 2016’s buzziest to date. Having played a low-key acoustic show the previous night, the band are above Moth Club where they’re due to play later. The beers are flowing, and here’s Ehrlich, asking which celebrity we’d all like to play darts with. His answer? Adele.

“I’d fucking destroy her!” He exclaims, almost tumbling off the sofa with enthusiasm. “I’d choose Adele because I’d win and then we’d chill and have a nice time.” Really? Surely she’d give him a run for his money. “She’d get over it, and honestly if she kicked my ass I’d be fine with it too. I fuck with her as a human being. She’s sick. And such a great singer.”

It’s a peculiar and fascinating mind, Ehrlich’s, but let’s backtrack slightly. Whitney are (essentially) an ensemble band led by Ehrlich and fellow former Smith Westerns cohort Max Kakachek, who together make gorgeous, early-morning indie rock built on a low-key bedroom aesthetic, also drawing upon country, folk and pop. It’s a mix that produced the instant hit ‘No Woman’ - a track so deliciously simple and sublime that it’s already become a weirdly huge fan favourite.

The weight of overnight popularity obviously shows, particularly with Ehrlich. Whitney feel like they’ve been together for ages, but have only in practice been around a year and only have a handful of shows under their belt (“we were all so nervous,” admits Ehrlich of the previous night). As we discuss everything from celebrity darts games to The 1975 to bumping into James Blake at Coachella, it’s clear the guys are in it for a bit of a giggle - they’re insistent on playing “bullshit” country festival Stagecoach, for example.

Their debut album was recorded in L.A. with Foxygen’s Jonathan Rado, whereas a few early recordings - like the almost year-old track ‘No Matter Where We Go’ - were home recorded. So how’d it go with Rado? “We just kind of had him looking over and not really having much input to be honest,” chuckles Ehrlich. He’s joking, of course - but there is an incredibly lackadaisical, slacker approach to what Whitney do that makes so much sense when paired up with their sprightly spring jams. “Like, we party a little bit…” He continues with a cheeky grin. “When I party I’ll go and lay down in my bed and all I ever want to do is listen to the record in a new state of mind. I hope other people do and feel the same way. We’re really happy about it. It’s like our lives revolve around it.”

Photo: Emma Swann / DIY. Whitney’s debut album ‘Light Upon The Lake’ is released June 3rd via Secretly Canadian.

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