Interview Vivian Girls: A Journey Through Bad Dreams

Side-projects, Hipster Runoff and how changing drummers isn’t really an issue.

If you’ve not been paying attention for the past four years or so, now would be a good time to start. Not only have you missed the biggest banking collapse we’re all ever likely to see, you’ve missed the ascent of Brooklyn’s Vivian Girls. Now three albums in, they’ve managed to cement their place as one of the most important and impressive bands to come out of a region utterly bustling with talent, and are showing absolutely no sign of stopping.

We caught up with Cassie Ramone from the band to have a chat about a few things, like the various side-projects that band have embarked upon, the abuse they get from Hipster Runoff (who, if you’re looking for a description of their sound, says they’re ‘fuzzy buzzy’) and how changing drummers isn’t really an issue.

Easy one for starters: what have you been up to today?
Today has been a good day. We woke up at the Dischord house, got breakfast at this incredible Jewish deli, and went to one of DC’s best thrift stores. Now we are watching the Black Lips soundcheck.

Anyway, you’re onto your third album - that’s pretty much established band territory. What’s the journey been like so far?
Long and interesting.

And the third album itself – I only got it a day or two ago and it seems to encompass the lighter aspects of your first album with the more jagged sounds that characterised your second release. As a band, how did you approach the making of it?
We started writing it not too long after we recorded ‘Everything Goes Wrong’, so the songs have been years in the making. Pretty much, we wanted to go a little more ambitious for our third album and try out a lot of things we never had before.

It wouldn’t be an interview if I didn’t ask if there are any themes behind it. So, any stories behind the songs?
The first half of the album loosely deals with alienation and the second half with reconciliation. But in a sense you are brought back to the beginning by the end. All of our albums have overarching themes. The first one is straightforward, like a diary. ‘Everything Goes Wrong’ is more like a journey through bad dreams where you’re never sure of where you are.

Another album means another tour, which is something most bands complain about. How do you tackle the endless days on the road?
Tour for us is usually really fun! I like to spend my time on the road collecting postcards and knick knacks from across the world.

Support from certain influential blogs seem to have been behind your ascent. Is that something that affects your thinking?
It did at the time, but it doesn’t affect what we do creatively.

You seem to be getting an increasing amount of abuse from Carles and the team at Hipster Runoff. Do you pay much attention?
It’s really annoying more than anything else, but I guess that is his goal. That kind of stuff is exactly what I want to avoid as a musician - being a ‘meme,’ etc. I do read Hipster Runoff sometimes. I think Carles is very smart and sometimes his observations are right on, but I don’t actually believe that he means any of the things he writes about. I view the blog more as conceptual art than anything else. However, it still doesn’t feel good to be on the receiving end of it.

You’ve managed to lose two drummers along the way too. How’ve the changes affected your outlook?
I don’t think I can stress this enough - it’s really not that big of a deal! Bands change members all the time. Almost every band I can think of has gone through as many line-up changes as us, which isn’t really that many. I think it’s way more noteworthy if a band can keep a consistent line-up for their entire career.

As well as your work in Vivian Girls, you’re also renowned for your solo projects. How are they coming along? Got anything else in the pipeline that you can tell us about?
Katy’s the only one of us who has had a renowned solo project - most people have never even heard mine. The Babies is a collaboration, a band in which everyone gives input. Both projects, as well as Fiona’s band Coasting, are going well though. They’re on the back burner right now as Vivian Girls are going to be touring for most of the year, but we all have plans to record more once we have time off.

As a band, you came out of a Brooklyn scene that was positively thriving a few years back. What’s it like in the area now? As an outsider it seems to be positively teeming with talent all of the time. Any tips?
The scene in Brooklyn is always changing, which is mostly a good thing! I wouldn’t want to live somewhere with a stagnant environment. There are a lot of really great new bands: Widowspeak and Dutch Treat are two of my favorites.

Vivian Girls’ new album ‘Share The Joy’ is out now via Polyvinyl. They’ll be touring the UK in July, check here for dates and tickets.

Read More

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Stay Updated!

Get the best of DIY to your inbox each week.

Latest Issue

February 2024

Featuring The Last Dinner Party, IDLES, Yard Act, Crawlers, Remi Wolf and more.

Read Now Buy Now Subscribe to DIY