“This record is our ‘Femejism’” declares Deap Vally’s Lindsey Troy, proudly. ”It’s our creative explosion; very pure and undiluted,” she drawls, pausing for thought. “It’s our creative seed!” the frontwoman revises with a smirk, before suddenly mimicking a fast-erupting geyser with her hands and scaring a couple of nearby tourists in the process. “Bam!”
Deap Vally – originally named God’s Cuntry, way back when – have never shied away from wordplay, nor bold statements. 2013 debut ‘Sistrionix’ (another beloved portmanteau) was both a lone search result on Google and a bolshy, bullshit-busting first outing. With its successor ‘Femejism’ mashing together ‘feminism’ and ‘jizz’ into a fuzzy-felt covered, grit-soaked bundle of roughed-up, blues-nodding rock, this Los Angeles duo are turning things up endless notches for album number two.
“It’s just a word that popped into my head, and I never really attached any particular meaning,” drummer Julie explains, sipping lemonade on a leafy London rooftop ahead of the duo’s live return to the capital this evening. “When I looked up what ‘feme’ meant, it’s actually a Latin legal term from back when women were first allowed to continue to be property owners after they’d divorced their husbands,” she adds. “It’s called a ‘feme sole’. It goes back to ‘gonna make my own money, gonna buy my own land’,” Julie points out, name-checking the pair’s debut stand-out track about binning off husbands and thriving alone. “It fitted.”
I’d rather keep trailing after the ever-elusive music career than Pokémon.”
In many ways, ‘Femejism’ is a continuation of where Deap Vally left off. Many of the debut’s central themes – gender inequality, misogyny and the pressures on women to adhere to a ‘perfect’ image – remain central here, largely because they’re equally pressing issues three years on. The band made their return with the snarling tirade ‘Smile More’, taking square aim at men on the street requesting women walk around with permanently-cemented grins. “Stranger in the bar tells me to smile more,” snarls a highly pissed off Lindsey in reply, “… I am happily unhappy, man, and no, I don’t wanna shake your hand.” It’s an unpleasant but everyday encounter that every woman listening to ‘Femejism’ will recognise in a lightning-flash instant.
“I started writing [‘Smile More’] at a downtown rehearsal studio,” remembers Lindsey, laughing, “and we were going to meet to flesh it out. I got in big trouble, you remember?” she asks, as Julie responds with a comedy frown. “You got super mad at me! I slept through my alarm clock when I was supposed to meet you and Nick [Zinner, producer and Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitar-man] in the studio one night, and I totally never woke up,” she continues. “You were like, ‘I’m really not in the mood to go to the studio, so you go to the space, and you work on that song’. So I went and played your drum kit for an hour,” she tells Julie, “and then I was all zenned out, and I banged those lyrics out real quick. It was one of those euphoric writing experiences where it’s really effortless, and it just comes out,” she says.
These ended up being a frequent occurrence on ‘Femejism’ - in part thanks to Nick. Manning the production desk alongside the band – who produced a chunk of the record alone, too – he pushed them to retain their potent essence, and concentrate it tenfold. The result is an album so sonically giant, it seizes you by the scruff of the neck, before drop-kicking you into a bottomless tangle of abrasive squalls, technicoloured guitar pedals, and dirty, nasty riffs.
“It’s really valuable for a two piece to have a third input,” Julie says today. “It can break a tie, or settle a war. Also, he’s just sonically so with it, he has such great taste for guitar tone,” she adds. “The three of us really went for it. We went deep, we got in the mud. We wrestled some things out, and he was very much a part of the process in terms of how the record sounds. We felt really comfortable together, which is extremely important. You feel like you can tell each other to fuck off, or tell each other it’s great, or whatever. You can get to the heart of what you’re recording.”
“It’s our creative seed!”
Lounging around today during a rare London heatwave, Deap Vally are observing a recent fad as it takes hold on the general public; a certain game named Pokémon Go. Though only a few aspiring Ash Ketchums cross their path today, it has apparently been wreaking havoc back in their native LA.
“My boyfriend was sub-letting this really groovy property in Silverlake,” Lindsey starts, spinning the yarn. “It’s kind of like a commune. An ex-wife and husband live there with their current spouses, and there are several houses, trailers, chickens, and an outside shower,” she grins. “His roommate was obsessed with Pokémon Go, and so he went to find a Pikachu or whatever, and it was on the property. He was searching around, and he followed it to the outdoor shower. He stumbles upon this woman and her boyfriend totally fucking!” she exclaims. “All parties were mortified.”
“It’s such a metaphor for life, you know?” deadpans Julie. “Searching for something that isn’t really there… that you can’t really find. I’d rather keep trailing after the ever-elusive music career,” she smiles, “than Pokémon.”
Deap Vally aren’t just moving off on technology-related tangents for nothing. ‘Femejism’ is a record that embraces all walks of messy modern life; our obsession with selfies and water vapour-emitting pipes included. One minute they’re wryly complaining about a shortage of ‘likes,’ and the next – on ‘Teenage Queen’ – Lindsey rebrands that age-old cliche, ‘sex, drugs and rock n’ roll’. Except here it’s ‘Snapchat, sex and cigarettes’.
“It should be e-cigs, really,” laughs Julie, delighted by the parallel. “Or vapes. But ‘Snapchat, sex, and vapes’ doesn’t sound as good,” she shrugs. “That stuff is reality, though, let’s not kid ourselves. When the aliens come in the future, and they find our buried civilisation, these songs can help give them a flavour of 2016.”
Deap Vally’s new album ‘Femejism’ is out on 16th September via Cooking Vinyl.
Photos: Emma Swann / DIY
Taken from the September 2016 issue of DIY, out now. Subscribe below.