Deap Vally shot by Koury Angelo There are few bands who would invite you to their baby shower to conduct an interview for a Noisey video exclusive. But then again, there are few bands as non-stop in their work ethic, and as raucous as they are real, as Deap Vally…
As Julie Edwards, drummer and soon-to-be-mother, ever-the-ying-to-guitarist-Lindsey-Troy's-yang invites me into her childhood home in Encino, California, past her mother and mother-in-law, towards a dresser to write my name on a miniature diaper and pin it to my lapel, it becomes clear what it really takes to be in a band in 2015. It's about multitasking, accepting whatever life throws at you, and figuring out every eventuality. In other words: "If you wanna be Queen bee, then you better make honey." Such are the lyrics to Deap Vally's beefed-up ode to female empowerment "Royal Jelly"—the first video single from the long-awaited, as-yet-untitled follow-up to 2013's debut Sistrionix, which we're premiering below.
Shot this past August in Silverlake/Los Feliz joint Good Luck, "Royal Jelly" was filmed when Julie was already five months pregnant. “I hung out there back in my early 20s,” she says of the Chinoiserie-style dive bar. “I went there on a first date once,” adds Lindsey. “The lighting is super vibey.” According to the pair the video is a celebration of strong, creative women—women such as friend and model of the moment Georgia May Jagger, visionary makeup artist and i-D beauty editor, Isamaya Ffrench, and director Jess Holzworth who's helmed plenty of Deap Vally videos in the past ("Baby I Call Hell," "Bad For My Body"). “It was really collaborative,” says Julie who intentionally sought talented lady cohorts to bring their ideas to fruition.
“I asked Georgia to be in it almost a year ago when I was round her house one night,” says Lindsey, who met the 23-year-old a few years back in Chicago at one of their own gigs.
“She's totally rad, super down to earth, really bright and digs what we're doing,” adds Julie. The idea for the video, which includes close-ups of Jagger's iconic lips (and that gap) mouthing, "If you wanna be Miss Thing, then you better start hustling," was gestating for a long time but the band weren't sure which song fitted the treatment. In the end, Georgia made the call. “We sent her 'Royal Jelly' and she freaked!” says Lindsey.
“I would do any video Deap Vally ask me to do!” insists Jagger. “Deap Vally are killing it and I'll remember the shoot day forever.” She's clearly a massive supporter of the girls but there was also something in the song's all-that-glitters-isn't-gold message that Jagger related to as someone who's had to prove that despite an impeccable rock 'n' roll pedigree (the daughter of Mick and legendary model Jerry Hall), she's been grafting away since she was a teen to achieve success. It's not all just primo genes; she's savvy too. It was Jagger's suggestion to bring makeup artist Isamaya Ffrench on board who promptly lent her cutting edge treatment to the shoot. “It was an incredible coup to have her involved,” says Julie. Produced by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs Nick Zinner who makes a fun cameo here (and whose influence is evident in the song's muscular, distorted guitar tone), the song is about a character called Noelle, loosely based on one of Julie and Lindsey's friends. It's about people who have grand expectations but, unlike these featured women, fail to put in the hard work. Lindsey adds that it's a cautionary tale, too. “Sometimes dangerous things happen to really attractive people who are told that fairytales can happen. If you want the fairytale you can't passively sit around and wait. Go after it.”
“And once you get it, you have a million times more work to do!" affirms Julie. "I'm gonna have a baby so it's certainly not gonna be any easier the second time around.”
Deap Vally are eager to release their sophomore album and head out on the road as soon as is physically possible. Today Lindsey arrives fresh off a US tour alongside boundary-pushing performer Peaches. Unfortunately Julie had to stay at home—doctors' orders. “A few weeks before the tour I had some weird early contractions and there was a chance it might happen again, which would have been a nuisance on the road,” she explains. “I really loved the idea of being hugely pregnant, playing drums and messing with people's minds. But why risk it?”
Today's baby shower is reasonably traditional… except we use permanent marker pens to decorate baby onesies with Bowie thunderbolts and slogans such as “SHUT UP AND DRUM.” And one of Julie's friends bakes cookies shaped as sperm and eggs (delicious). Plus Lindsey entices guests to scrawl funny messages on diapers, including re-tooled Deap Vally lyrics courtsey of Julie's mom (“Gonna make my own poopie, gonna get it on your hand”). Finally, there's a gifting session that produces a premature CD collection for the imminent third of Deap Vally member including lullaby versions of Radiohead, Blur, and Nine Inch Nails.
As we listen to the surprisingly sleep-inducing baby-friendly version of the latter's goth metal anthem "Hurt," Julie offers up her own personal due date. But what of the second album's? “We're not on a label right now,” says Lindsey, defiantly. “We're just taking control of our destiny and we're ready to put it out but we have to do things the right way. We wanna have longevity, we don't wanna sabotage our career.”
Julie chips in: “The relationship with a label is like a marriage. It's hard to get it right the first time.It's taught us patience for sure…”
The only further details offered on the second record are that Julie and Lindsey intend to create similarly thrilling visual components for every song, whether the tunes are singles or not. Both members want to get in the director's seat and create at least one video each. If any band knows a thing or two about "hustling" it's these guys. “You never wanna undervalue yourself,” says Julie. “If you wanna build a career, make sure you're getting paid when you show up to shows. It's not just a hobby that's a phase in your life. Be a step beyond just believing in yourself and ask for what you want. Ask for what you feel you're entitled to.”
Lindsey nods. “Yeah, and stay true to your dignity. It's a hard business because you're constantly asked to compromise those things. Compromise isn't worth it for us. We do this to empower ourselves and others, not to be billionaires. Money would be nice but…”
Julie finishes off Lindsey's thought: “We're doing this to change the world. We're going to be ballers on our terms. That's even bigger balling.”
Check out the video for "Royal Jelly" below…
Eve Barlow is a Scottish writer living in LA! Follow her on Twitter.