Fully On Our Own Terms: A Conversation with Deap Vally

by Hannah Wriston

Deap Vally

Deap Vally at the Southwest Invasion during SXSW. Photo by Clayton Hodges

Hannah Wriston with Ovrld sat down with Deap Vally in their stylishly furnished dressing room just before the Southwest Invasion at Whole Foods during SXSW to discuss the fearsome duo’s love for Juiceland, what it was like to play with Marilyn Manson, their proclivity for making up new words and more.

Hannah Wriston: So you’ve visited Austin several times for ACL and SXSW. Do you have have a spot that’s become a ritual whenever you guys come back?

Julie Edwards of Deap Vally:Well at this point I’d say the Whole Foods rooftop has kind of become a ritual. We played just last year so it’s awesome to be back again. She [Julie’s daughter Mira] was three and a half and here last year.

Lindsey Troy: Juiceland. I can’t remember what I had yesterday but it was so great.

Ovrld: So you’re doing two major tours this year with Desert Daze and Rage and Rapture. What are you guys looking forward to the most?

JE: Well, we’re almost done with the Desert Daze tour which has been so great. It will kind of be sad when that’s over. It’s just been five bands. We’ve been on tour since February 22 and everyone has totally bonded and we had such a great time, so that’ll be the end of a nice little chapter. But then I mean touring with Blondie and Garbage is like 10 dreams come true, ya know?

Ovrld: I was actually about to ask about that, those are amazing bands. Have you ever toured with them before? Is this your first time?

LT: It’d be our first time, yeah. We’ve met Shirley Manson a couple times and she’s so cool. Such a cool woman.

Ovrld: She has an amazing stage presence.

LT: Oh yeah, for sure.

Deap Vally

Deap Vally at the Southwest Invasion during SXSW. Photo by Clayton Hodges

Ovrld: So you’ve toured with a lot of big musicians like Muse, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers when you toured abroad. Who’s the craziest band you’ve ever hung out with?

JE: The craziest? Like wildest?

Ovrld: Yeah, like wild.

JE: Marilyn Manson.

LT: Yeah, that’s true.

Ovrld: Why Manson?

JE: Well, he’s definitely by far the wildest artist we’ve ever toured and hung out with.

LT: Yeah, he lives the dream

[Laughing together] Slash nightmare.

Ovrld: Yeah, I can only imagine what that’s like hanging out with him. I’ve always heard that he’s a down to earth person when you talk to him. Right?

LT: Kinda

JE: It just depends on like what minute of the day you got him. Sometimes he’s partying, sometimes he’s grounded.

Ovrld: You just gotta ride the wave, huh?

JE: [laughing] Something like that.

Deap Vally

Deap Vally at the Southwest Invasion during SXSW. Photo by Clayton Hodges

Ovrld: So I adore the title to your newest album, Femejism.

LT: Oh, Julie came up with that.

Ovrld: How did you come up with it?

JE: Well, I’m really dorky and like to invent words, and feminism spelled with “men” in the middle had been kicking around my brain for a long time– as this deeply ironic word. Then one day the “N” in feminism turned into a “J” and I was like oh my god!

Ovrld: That’s awesome! It’s tongue in cheek and funny, but also it’s brutal and rock ‘n’ roll.

JE: Yeah, absolutely!

LT: I mean yeah, it’s all those things. It’s like all of the above. It’s very meaningful but it’s also has a huge humor content. I think there’s some people where it’s kind of over their heads and they’re not entirely sure how to take it, but it’s really interpretive. However you take it, is what it means, ya know?

Ovrld: Yeah, I was about to ask how other people have reacted to the title since it came out last year…

JE: Well in England this man said to me “Are you aware of what ‘jism’ means in England?” I was like yeah, I think it means the same thing in the U.S. So he thought maybe we just didn’t know, and it was one of those funny faux-pas where you don’t even know that you’re doing it. There used to be this chain of drug stores in Southern California called Osco, and it turned out that the word means “throw up” in Spanish. They just didn’t know, you know?

Ovrld:  Well that’s a sweet way to think about it. Like oh, maybe they just didn’t realize it! So, you guys financed this last album yourself, right? How is that different from Sistrionix where it was through Island Records?

LT: It’s different because when someone else is footing the bill for you, they’re gonna try to influence you but when you’re doing it yourself you’re in complete control. But it’s more expensive.

JE: But the freedom is really exhilarating, ya know? Because we’re allowed to just be pretty much how ever we felt like being, and all the tension and creation existed here which is where it should be. As opposed to, like, this third party who is less invested in the music coming in and saying things to us about whether our songs were hits or the right length for radio or any of those things. So yeah, it’s different. Femejism couldn’t have been born in the major label system. It needed to be fully on our own terms.

Deap Vally

Deap Vally at the Southwest Invasion during SXSW. Photo by Clayton Hodges.

Ovrld: Wow, that’s great that you guys were able to take control of it. How did you end up finding your sound when you first started playing together?

LT: Um, we discussed a little bit. Julie had referenced ’70s rock n’ roll, and I said what about a blues jam? And it kind of evolved from there, we just kinda by accident became a two-piece– we intended to become a three piece but the third member was really busy touring with other projects. We jammed with her once, but then she was out of town. So we just started jamming with the two of us.

Ovrld: So when it comes to effect pedals or other equipment do you prefer a lot of choice or just keep it to your favorites?

LT: I prefer less choice, I get overwhelmed by too many options. But it’s fun to throw new things in there now and then, to keep it interesting.