Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Up Close and Personal with Sherlock's Daughter

Tanya Horo of Sherlock's Daughter.
With a sold-out show at Bowery Ballroom last night, Freelance Whales’ performance was not to be missed. But in my opinion the real band to watch was the opening act: Sherlock's Daughter. I came across Sherlock's Daughter recently when they played with Neon Indian at Brooklyn Bowl. Based out of Sydney, Australia, the band just moved to Brooklyn two weeks ago. And yet in this short amount of time they have already managed to earn gigs that take other bands years to get. This isn’t to say that they’re complete unknowns. They played at CMJ this past fall, had critical acclaim from Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, and are set to start recording their new album with John Agnello next week.

Sherlock's Daughter is a band that likes to experiment, both with sound and physical space. They profess that they have difficulty confining themselves to one genre—and with good reason. With bold, echoing distortions, tribal percussion, and folksy harmonies, they’ve got a full sound. They bring a playful attitude to the stage as well. Tanya Horo (lead vocals, xylophone, percussion) often hops around and on a couple of occasions Liam Flanagan (bass, vocals) finds himself on top of the amps near Will Russell (drums). You can tell they’re channeling the music as they play.*

I had the pleasure of meeting up with Will and Liam prior to the show for an exclusive interview. In search for a quiet spot amongst the pre-show craziness, we met in a dark stairwell by the fire exit. The ambiance was a bit shady but with a true free-spirited attitude, Will and Liam were game to talk.

GFP: Welcome to New York. How’s it treating you so far?

Will: I’m really loving it. We got a house on the first day. The gas came on three days later.
Liam: It’s awesome. It’s easier than we thought. A couple of us got jobs - unfortunately, but a necessity. Yeah, everything’s been great. Everyone’s really nice.

Any favorite bars?
L: We’re so broke at the moment that we have just been drinking at home. But there’s a gangsta that lives on the top floor and he comes down and he pretty much just hijacks our house because it’s nicer than his. So he comes down and he takes our laptop and plays like goochy instrumental off youtube and just raps to it like its his place, and he’s drunk and it’s like [in best American accent possible], “I gotta keep going man!” So I’d have to say that our favorite bar is our house.

Nice. I have to ask: why Sherlocks Daughter?
W: The lead singer [Tanya] is a bit obsessed with Arthur Conan Doyle who wrote the Sherlock Holmes stories and she fancies herself being a bit of Sherlock Holmes. We didn’t have much choice in the matter. She kind of decided the name before. I’m cool with that. I’m in touch with my feminine side.

So Tanya has taken the lead of things. Is she the mom of the group?
L: Well she’s the only woman. It’s definitely a democracy, but you know, like shouty shouty mama [he pumps his fist in the air and I try to imagine what he means]. She’s got pussypower and you have to bow to that. She’s amazing.
W: She’s definitely passionate. It’s all she wants to do. Because we can be a bit lazy.

Fair enough. In your interview at SXSW that you posted on your blog you described yourselves as “Dreampop.” Can you elaborate on that?
L: Dreampop, it’s…well, I don’t know what to call it because everyone wants to categorize the band and I don’t know what it sounds like anymore. We’ve been calling ourselves Chinese Country.

Chinese Country? Is that an Australian term?
W: No, we made it up. We’re all so different. Each one of us has very different styles. I listen to hip hop and I listen to German groups like Kraftwerk. We don’t have any contrived ideas. We just go in and jam. If we like the sound of stuff, we keep it. It’s not like we go in and say let’s do this or that.
L: What would you call it?

It does have a dreamy feel. I hear tribal electric.
W: Tribal electric is spot on. That’s great.
L: Yeah, that’s the new one. Go for it. Tribal electric.

Right on. Which bands would you like to perform with in 2010?
L: I saw this band called Warpaint at SXSW and they were fucking great. I found them really inspiring and I want to do some shows with them. We talked about it and they’re pretty game. So hopefully we’ll do that. I want to do a show with fucking Jay-Z or Madonna.
W: [Laughs]. Or Stereolab would be cool.

Dreaming big. That’s good! I noticed that you guys like to switch off with instruments. Are there any new instruments that you want to learn?
L: I want to learn Banjo so badly. It’s been like this thing ever since I was able to play music. I really want to play piano accordion as well.
W: Piano accordion. Double bass would be nice.

Lastly, what’s your Guilt Free Pleasure?
L: [Starts to roll a cigarette]. Hm, I can’t say heroin? My guilt free pleasure… guilt free? Something that could get printed? They’re all pretty guilty pleasures.
W: Maybe like…dancing to Sinatra naked in my bedroom.

*Other members include Tim Maybury (guitar, vocals) and Jonti Danilewitz (keyboard)

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