You’ll probably know Very Fresh from a fair few places. Ringleader Cindy Lou Gooden is all over the place and everywhere when it comes to New York’s music scene; recently she played on Ava Luna’s album. You might know her from Babement - a Pavement cover group which also boasts Speedy Ortiz’s Sadie Dupuis - as a member, too. She also (deep breath) plays bass for Railings, and tours with Leaplings. As if that wasn’t enough in the way of plates to spin, she also has another band, Very Fresh.
Starting life several years ago as a strictly acoustic project, the band’s line-up is now fully amped up and in flux, depending on which of Cindy Lou Gooden’s musical pals are available to play shows. Their new EP ‘Hey, It’s Me!’ shows off every facet, grappling with the ups and downs of life as a musician, the obstacles that tend to rear their heads along the way, and being vulnerable as a writer. All the while, it’s filtered through Cindy Lou Gooden’s sharply witty, acerbic lyrical lens.
We’ve got the first spin of Very Fresh’s Very Good new EP ‘Hey, It’s Me!’ below as today’s Neu Pick. We also had a chat to the project’s mastermind Cindy Lou Gooden about the new release…
You’ve stated that up until this point, Very Fresh has been to do with you getting discouraged by things, and overcoming it. What sorts of things?
Mostly just stupid privileged shit. I’m so incredibly lucky and my problems are so ridiculous in the big picture. More than a billion people have no access to a safe and sanitary place to relieve themselves. One more roll of the dice, and my highest life aspiration could have been buying a toilet for my family. Perspective’s a bitch.
That said, I live in the world I live in. My emotions are so tied up with the band that sometimes a small setback feels like the end of the world. So when I was younger, simple setbacks would paralyze me. These days, I’m more frustrated with the fact that my gainful employment doesn’t leave me enough time to take care of band work. “Woe is me!” But I’m working to change that. It’s just not an overnight process.
Prior to making ‘Hey, It’s Me!’ you spent a while in Florida trying to get away from music entirely. What brought you back to New York City and making music as Very Fresh again?
I didn’t have any friends or anything to do in Florida (I lived in a tiny city in the western panhandle). I came back up to teach programming at a summer arts camp an hour north of the city, where I’d been working for a few years. My brother also lives in Brooklyn, and when camp wrapped up I went down to hang out with him for a few days before heading back to Florida. I went out to one show, saw my old friends’ bands playing better and doing better than before, and the switch just kind of flipped back on. Why wasn’t I doing that too? So 3 days turned into a few months getting back on my feet, and I’ve been plugging away ever since.
I love my friends and the scene here, but I don’t love New York. I might try a new city pretty soon.
Your lyrics are conversational, sharp-edged and often very witty - how do you write them?
Thank you! It’s pretty quick and intuitive most of the time. Once I have a little bit of hook or chord structure to work off of, I’ll start free-writing, just vomiting onto the page. Then I’ll pull from that and refine it until it makes sense (to me, at least). That’s how 'California Low' was written. Sometimes it’s a little more structured than that, especially if I have a core idea I’m working off of. Writing 'Cool Kids' was more like that.
Even when I’m not writing songs, I free-write all the time. I have dozens of notebooks full of word vomit. Doing it regularly helps keep the wheels greased for when I do sit down and write the song.
Do you think it’s important to be vulnerable as a musician?
Yes, absolutely. John Darnielle built an entire fan base around being vulnerable and confessional, proving that it worked with listeners before anything like social media came into the picture. Considering that and the extremely important role social media plays in communicating with your fans, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that artists like Mitski and PWR BTTM are absolutely slaying right now. They’re both examples of artists that lay a lot out there, and fans respond to it extremely enthusiastically.
Business aside, making music is an inherently vulnerable act. And for someone freakishly reserved like me, it’s the most powerful outlet I have for self-expression. It’s like therapy.