Interview: Versus: Merchandise and Dum Dum Girls shoot the shit ahead of their joint single

With their collaborative ‘Red Sun’ single on the horizon, the two bands go head to head, interviewing each other in the process.

‘Red Sun’, the new collaborative single from Merchandise and Dum Dum Girls, showcases two bands at the height of their creativity. Shapeshifting entities, the both of them, though they’re tied together with a fearsome dedication to their craft.

The track’s getting a 7” release via Sub Pop this Friday (27th November), so we thought it was high time the two sat down, poring over their craft in a back and forth fit for such a barrelling, elegant meeting of minds as ‘Red Sun’.

Pick up a copy of the record here, and stream ‘Red Sun’ here.

Dee Dee of Dum Dum Girls, to Carson from Merchandise:

That hair. Do you wake up like that?

I have good days and bad days. A drunk girl in Helsinki said it looked like shit. It must be a gringo thing.

Do you remember your first AIM name? Did you have a LiveJournal?

Anti Racist 86, this was at the height of my poli-punk adolescence… We won’t talk about Live Journal…

You are currently in Brooklyn, having roamed a bit through Berlin, Venice, and then bouncing up from Tampa. You do realize you’ve made the exact opposite seasonally-motivated move as most (sane) people? I kind of did the long version of that, in relocating from the West Coast, so I will give you that there’s something inexplicably magical about snow in a big city. But still, WTF ?

The truth is I don’t plan my life and follow it into the wild wherever. I can deal with the dragons of winter if it means I’m going to have something to do. Being born in Tampa is in some ways easy cause there’s no motivation to leave. L.A. is different just cause its a super active place. Berlin is perfect in the summer. No place is perfect forever… I still want to move to Russia..

Had you ever worked on music with a semi-stranger via email before? I think it’s funny that we only had one brief telephone conversation prompted by my inability to text properly (RIP qwerty keyboard), and then fast forward a year and we have this real thing. That has kinda always been my M.O., from early DDG to my more recent HUNI project with one of my producers. Did I induct you into this lifestyle or is this also how Merchandise has worked throughout the years?

No. I think I just was such a fan of your music that I made it work no matter how long it took. The first wMerch record was made while Dave lived in Atlanta but he would just commute. We did some songs via email. When I want to do something creatively I just grab it.

Our collaboration started in a completely different context, general inquiry turned “let’s cover Primal Scream covering Lee & Nancy” turned pitching an original piece for a film (rejected) - do you think these songs would exist as they do without that nonlinear process? Do you have any idea what else we could’ve sounded like?

Fuck, I don’t know. I had at least 4 alternate tracks we didn’t touch so I think ‘Red Sun’ would of just been in that pile of tracks. That song and the B-side just sort of showed up in a weird way… But probably not since I spent months trying to find material for us…

Should we find out?

Hell no.

Why the hell not?!

Because passion and creativity are wired to the soul. Motives exist outside of explanation and rational thought. It was in the stars and you don’t ask the gods why. (u ok m8? - Ed)

Carson of Merchandise, to Dee Dee from Dum Dum Girls:

Sativa or indica?

Sativa. I’ve got shit to do. It’s a fact that every DDG song has been written, recorded, and mixed while stoned.

Bongs or Bowls?

Spliffs.

California or NYC?

That’s a toughy. Nothing feels like home more than coasting down Highway 1/101 but NYC keeps me moving faster.

Old movies or new movies?

I’m really into being really into the Now.

Collaboration is interesting cause it lets both artist a kind of freedom that can’t be self induced. What are your faves? Music or otherwise?

I have a tiny old copy of Anaïs Nin’s House Of Incest with photomontages by Val Telberg (photo below) … it’s incredible.

The male/female duet is a classic. In an age where everything is being updated, why is it still fun to play with familiar themes like the desperation of lovers or DEAD END LOVE? It’s really rare to find another singer/artist/human that understands that classical thing as well as you do. I’m curious how do you approach the classical as an archetype?

I think it’s classic because it’s universal. Songs that explore experiences most people have resonate that much harder. Even if a song isn’t 100% topically autobiographical, there’s a seed of me from which it grew. To quote Fast Times At Ridgemont High, “learn it, know it, live it.”

Tags: Dum Dum Girls, Merchandise, Versus, Features

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