by Alex Teitz
New York band Rich Girls is Luisa Black, August Churchill & Gavin Haag. After releasing EP’s, Fiver & Love Is the Dealer, the band is releasing their full length album Black City on April 6. The singles “Hit” and “Wayne” show an alternative band released with no constraint. The album was recorded on both coasts and begs for a headlining tour. For info visit https://www.richgirlstheband.com/
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Black City?
LB: There was a ton of momentum heading into recording. We worked hard on pre-production and had this whirlwind week where we tracked basics in Brooklyn and I flew to San Francisco to finish guitars and vocals. And then two days into recording I got super sick and lost my voice. Just completely. So all that momentum came to a screeching halt. I had to cancel a bunch of sessions and there was a week there where I couldn’t see how I would finish the record. I ended up canceling my return trip to NYC and stayed an extra two weeks in California to get it done.
FEMMUSIC: How was your approach different in making a full album vs EP’s? What lessons did you learn from making EPs?
LB: I love EPs as a format because you can’t fuck them up. You get a handful of songs to take a stand. And you can really dial in a sound and an idea. It’s an exercise in subtraction. It’s pure. Making a full album is harder. It forces you to expand. There was a lot more sonic range on Black City than on our previous EPs. New instrumentation, a bigger range of tempos. I took more chances.
FEMMUSIC: I see you recorded on both coasts. How did you choose Travis Harrison & Sean Beresford to record the album? What did they bring to the project?
LB: Travis we lucked out and found when we did a live session for Brooklyn Today Radio. Those mic-it-and-go things usually sound terrible but he did an amazing job and it sounded great.
Later when we were looking for a studio to track in, our friend Steve Matrick, the talent buyer at Piano’s, recommended a guy who he said was the engineer for Guided by Voices and would be a great fit for us. It turned out to be Travis. So that was easy. And then Sean I’ve been working with since I was in The Blacks. He’s been an incredible creative partner to me. At this point it’s like we have a secret language. Plus he tolerates my incessant call for more reverb.
FEMMUSIC: You’re signed to Tricycle Records. What made you sign with them? How are they to work with?
LB: Julie Schuchard, who runs the label, was a big supporter of local music in SF. She signed my first band, The Blacks, and I’ve been working with her pretty much ever since.
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?
LB: It almost always starts with a sound in my head and then I try to make the sound real by writing the song. So production is a big part of it for me. With Black City the writing process was much more raw. I was pushing into new sonic territory. Also my lyric writing process is sort of bizarre. I write phonetically. Meaning I mostly start with sounds instead of words. Occasionally I’ll get lucky and start with full phrases but that’s rare. I chase feeling first.
FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest impact on you and why?
LB: Too hard. But the songs that have the biggest impact on me are the ones that spin me in new directions and change how I think about sound.
It’s some kind of dark magic. I know when it happens because I stop whatever I’m doing and listen.
FEMMUSIC: As a woman in the music industry have you been discriminated against?
LB: There’s so much low-level bullshit but it’s not specific to the music industry. I can’t tell you how many times a guy finds out I play in a band and immediately asks me if I play bass.
I used to explain that I play guitar. Now I say, “Why, because I’m a woman?”
FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to tour with or collaborate with? Why?
LB: Iggy Pop! I’d be honored to watch him wipe the floor with us.
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you change about the music industry?
LB: Those right-wing country stars who tell artists to stay out of politics. Let’s shoot them into space.