This week, we’re headed to New York City event Mondo.NYC (think The Great Escape, but with taller buildings and fewer pebble-strewn beaches) to find out what’s going on in the Big Apple.
Artists from across the globe are headed there, as the event buries itself deep in Manhattan to host both many a live performance and a series of panels on ‘the future of the industry’ and ‘similar things’.
Among the acts performing there are Grandchildren, Carnival Youth, Birthday Club, and Hodera plus a handful of British artists including Alpines, Mt. Wolf and Luke Sital-Singh.
We spoke to local band Your Dog to see what they had to say about being a band in NYC right now - and for a few recommendations, obviously.
Where in NYC are you based?
Originally we were based in the Bronx, where we all met and went to school. But recently we’ve made the migration to Brooklyn to be closer to venues and work. The transition has felt seamless, as we spent most of our last year living in the Bronx crashing on friends couches down here in Brooklyn. It’s a very special place, filled with artists grinding to pay rent and create as much as possible. That drive and desire is definitely something you feel every time you step out of your apartment, and it’s intoxicating. There are negative aspects to it which are impossible to deny. ie the obvious and rampant process of gentrification that is easy to feel a part of even when you’re dirt broke. Therefore it’s vital not to assume a blank state, and embrace and support the community that has existed here for so long.
Where are you originally from, if not the city itself?
Julius (bass), is from Baltimore originally, but grew up predominately in Cairo, Egypt. Kate (drums), grew up 50/50 in Manhattan and Sag Harbor, Long Island - so she’s the only real New Yorker. I (Ian) grew up in Groton, Connecticut, a few hours east of NYC right near the border of Rhode Island. We all met at college in the Bronx, studying Middle Eastern studies and Arabic. It’s strange that a bond over interest in geo-political history led to a band, but that’s exactly what happened.
I actually went to school on 60th Street, where our school had a smaller campus, and had been in a couple bands with some friends. Eventually I met Kate through mutual classes, and ended up moving in with her in the Bronx to save money on rent. Then i met Julius and it was love at first sight. Soon after I made an EP (‘Talking to Bob’) in my bedroom with some songs that I had and ever since we’ve been Your Dog.
We also helped run a venue up in the Bronx with our pal Luke who did the booking / pretty much everything. It was called the Meat Shop and it was an a amazing thing to be a part of. Sadly it disbanded at the end of our last year - RIP.
Why has NYC so often been a hub for artists?
We all agree that New York is a hub for all art in general, not just music. But the music here is certainly relentless. It’s constantly regenerating and growing - there’s never a lull. It seems as though it’s always been that way. Maybe it’s because of the amount of venues, and opportunities to perform and opportunities to have people willing to hear what you have to say. But we’re in no place to define New York’s magic. It’s beyond us.
Obviously the rising costs of living (it’s the same here in London!) pose a challenge, have you ever been tempted to relocate elsewhere?
It’s always tempting to move somewhere cheaper, but it’s just not doable for us as of now. We’re a small band who are grateful for every opportunity we get to display the stuff we’re working on, & New York is undeniably the best place to do that. It’s definitely difficult. We work a lot, and have to say no to a lot of opportunities that we wish we didn’t, solely because we have to grind to survive. But that makes everything a little sweeter in the end. So, for now, we’re sticking it out.
What’s bubbling under in NYC that DIY readers should know about?
There are so many different things happening in New York that are so beautiful and special. There was an article in the NY Times on the first of September called: ‘Rock’s Not Dead, It’s Ruled by Women’, which is 100% true and we adore everyone in that article. We played a show with some of our favorite songwriters the other week for Lomelda’s record release. It was Lomelda, Thelma, and Emily Yacina.
Personally, my favorite artists are the bands I go & see as frequently as possible. My favourites are Florist, Dougie Poole, The Firs (who are about to drop an album that sounds amazing so far), and Big Thief. I feel as though there’s a really important and unique folk/singer-songwriter/alt-country thing going on. We also have friends who are in bands that we love because we’re so close and have such a strong connection to the songs: our pals in Active Bird Community, and Ghost King.
Your Dog play Brooklyn Bazaar on Thursday 5th October.
Photo: Alin Skiba