“We’re a chip off the block that is Led Zeppelin,” says Julie Edwards, one half of the rock duo Deap Vally. Within just a few short years, they have staked their claim as heir to female-driven rock we haven’t seen since the heyday of the riot grrrl movement. No offense to the Gagas and Katys of the world, but pop this is not. Deap Vally’s influences in both sound and sensibility run the gamut from classic rock to female icons of varying generations. “We love Tina Turner, she’s so fearless,” says Edwards. “And we [Lindsey Troy] also both have a deep, deep appreciation for Courtney Love.” The band even learned a thing or two from Mumford & Sons, whom they toured with in 2013. “They placed a huge emphasis on collaboration like they did back in the 70s. They’re really about what music is about on a fundamental level, like collaboration and creation and feeding off of their audience.”
Edwards met the band’s other half, Lindsey Troy, in a knitting class in Los Angeles, where the two found a mutual interest in music. “We discovered that we were both musicians and we were both actually on the same kind of plateau – we sort of had lost our sense of direction and momentum.” Now, the two have found a new sense of purpose with their music. “I think that we always just wanted to portray ourselves [as rock stars] and it never really occurred to us to be any other way,” says Edwards. “I kind of just want to keep battling preconceived notions of women.”
The duo is currently opening for Marilyn Manson and working in the studio on their second album with the help from Yeah Yeah Yeah‘s Nick Zinner. Lindsey will also be joining punk band White Lung as a touring bass player. For the band, longevity is the key to becoming legendary. “Beyoncé is already legendary. I think that in twenty years she’ll still be on everyone’s minds. [Women] are expected to be permanently young, but I’m just getting older all the time! I think it would be bad-ass of us to still be rocking out and still be doing what we do twenty, thirty years into the future.”
Check out our Q&A with Julie below from The Untitled Magazine‘s “Legendary” Issue 7 or download the “Legendary” Issue App for more exclusive behind the scenes videos and photos.
Indira Cesarine: How’s everything going? Have you been having a busy time at the moment?
Deap Valley (Julie): Yeah, Lindsey and I have had a little bit of a break after touring, and my husband is putting on the third annual Desert Daze music festival. Last year, I wasn’t home during the preparations for it, but this year I am, which means I’m pretty involved in the planning of this music festival.
IC: So he’s also a musician?
DV: He is, he’s in a band called “JUJU;” they came on our European tour and actually opened for us for three weeks in Europe. It was a super, utopian kind of tour.
IC: Where are you currently based?
DV: I live in Mt. Washington, and Lindsey has actually been couch surfing for a year and a half because we started touring so much that it didn’t make sense for her to keep paying rent on a place that she wasn’t in. Yeah, so she’s usually in Korea Town crashing in someone’s place.
IC: Only musicians get to say ‘Oh I’m couch surfing right now!’
DV: I know, right?
IC: I read that you met in a crochet class?
DV: I actually had a knitting shop called “The Little Knittery.” A lot of people don’t know what a knitting shop is; it’s a little shop full of gorgeous yarn that usually offers classes. I offered crochet and knitting classes, and one day Lindsey wandered in. She was just an anonymous customer off the street. She came in, and I actually found her a little high-maintenance and I was worried that she needed a lot of help and wasn’t going to make a purchase which, from a retail standpoint is kind of a drag, because it’s a waste of your time. Anyways, she needed my help and attention for a long amount of time, and did make a purchase, took the class, and she learned so fast! I taught thousands of people how to crochet, and there’s a top percentile of people who get it, and Lindsey was definitely one of them. As we were doing the class, once you learn the basics, you kind of just sit and chat, and I would go around and help people. During us sitting and chatting, we discovered that we were both musicians and we were both at the same kind of plateau—we had lost our sense of direction and momentum. She was doing morose-folk, like downer-folk, and I had an experimental alternative music project called The Pity Party, which was also kind of morose-experimental. We were in a very morose mode. We bonded over that, and she kept coming into the shop for help, and eventually she came in to learn how to knit. She would brainstorm with me what she should do for her career, and I was happy to do it. I mean, she had told me about her previous lifetime… Lindsey has been at it a while, (she actually had a record deal when she was a teenager with her sister). I had always been on the DIY side, and she had been more on the heavy-duty business side. I thought that her point-of-view was really interesting, and she thought that mine was really interesting because she never got to just be in a band and gig around. She was a teenager surrounded by adults who were trying to control her career, and I had never been told what I should do by anyone. I’d been so DIY to the point of being completely obscure. It was really a meeting of two different worlds: two people from different worlds with a singular vision.
IC: It seems like it blew up pretty quickly!
DV: Yeah, it all happened really quickly. Our first jam was with our friend Ashley on bass, actually right now she’s in CeeLo Green’s band. We did one three-hour jam and that was it; she was off touring with other bands doing other projects, so we just decided that we’d carry on without her and see what happens. We booked our first show, and it went really well. There was a great response.
IC: Where was that?
DV: It was at the Silverlake Lounge- this awesome little dive bar in Silverlake. It just moved, I mean, it just had legs. Everything moved really fast.
IC: How was it to be performing in a dive bar and getting a record deal? How quickly did that happen?
DV: I think we signed our deal in September or August, and we started playing shows in 2011.
IC: So it was a year and a half later?
DV: Yeah, it was really fast. To me it’s like science-fiction, because Pity Party had been a band for seven years: gigging locally, planning tours, doing everything ourselves and waiting for that opportunity. So I didn’t even think anyone got record deals!
IC: How would you describe your sound?
DV: I’d say we’re heavily confrontational, blues, punk-funk. We have elements of punk, confrontational-punk, we work with a blues-based scale and a blues-based feel. I like to bring a little spunkiness in with the drums. It’s also heavy rock ‘n’ roll. More simply put, we’re a chip off the block that is Led Zeppelin, which was a band that combined so many different influences to create a classic, expansive, creative-rock.
IC: Did that come together from your separate experiences with your own bands?
DV: Lindsey always loved early Hole; like “Live Through This” and “Pretty on the Inside” era Hole, but she never had a chance to express herself that way. There wasn’t room for that in the things she was doing as a teenager, and there wasn’t really room for that when she was doing acoustic guitar stuff. She knew she always wanted to draw from that place of power and impact. For me, I have heavy-music damage. I can’t even listen to anything acoustic. I just love the power of it; I love the high stakes of it, the drama. We both wanted the same thing. I really wanted to do something that spoke more directly to the audience. I wanted to break through and say something. Like, really say something. Lindsey was great for me, because that’s what she’s so good at doing. She’s really good at speaking to the audience and getting the point across.
IC: How do you feel about the way that women are perceived in the music industry: do you ever fall under stereotypes like “check out these rocker chicks?”
DV: It definitely comes up, and it works to our advantage as much as it works against us. I think that we always wanted to portray ourselves that way, and it never really occurred to us to be any other way. For instance, we love the band Savages, but it never occurred to Lindsey or I to cover ourselves up on stage. Both of us had the instinct to glam it up and to make it more theatrical. Also, to get our booty out! We’re both self-conscious about our booties and so we were kind of like “Let it all hang out, fuck it!” After a little while, there were lots of people who loved that and were empowered by that. And there were also lots of people who were very critical, and we weren’t really thinking about that at all. But I think that some people probably look at pictures of us and judge us, and just assume. They don’t associate that picture with women who have spent hours and hours playing instruments alone together, jamming and figuring things out. They see that image, and maybe they associate it with pop music. Some people have an association that if you dress provocatively, you’re a slut. Their brains literally follow this thought, which, to Lindsey and I, is absurd. It’s fun; it’s like playing dress up. It’s not like a depiction of our characters, which is what it ended up being. That came as a surprise.
IC: That’s such an old-fashioned point of view anyway. Didn’t people burn bras in the sixties?
DV: I know, but it’s really a rampage.
DV: They’re definitely our ancestors. Joan Jett is awesome. I mean, awesome. Her songs are such amazing ideas that are so strong and killer. Joan Jett is the bomb. The Runaways are awesome too. I mean, I’m old enough to be the Runaways’ mom.
IC: Do you mind if I ask how old you are?
DV: I’m thirty-five. Lindsey is younger. She’s like the next generation down. She’s twenty-seven or twenty-six. But if we are the Runaways, we’re also Kim Fowley, because we are the creators of ourselves and we are the people who motivate and push ourselves. Rather than have someone external come in and do that for us, we do that for us. Maybe that makes us the post-modern Runaways or something. We also both have a deep, deep appreciation for Courtney Love. I still listen to “Live Through This” and “Pretty on the Inside.” I think it’s outrageous and brave, and I think it’s totally innovative and revolutionary — even today. I know that’s controversial, and some people don’t love her, but Lindsey and I both love the first two records that Hole made because they’re so important. I think that if they hadn’t existed, if those records hadn’t come around, we wouldn’t exist. It’s something beyond Riot grrrl; it’s darker than that. The power there is enormous, from her voice to her ability to grow out and reach those places inside of herself, particularly on those two records.
IC: Would you consider her your favorite musician?
DV: No, she’s not my favorite musician. But in terms of really kicking down a wall for what you’d expect a woman to do, she’s way up there. Also, Tina Turner. We love Tina Turner. She’s so fearless. She goes so deep to bring you her art. We love The Savages; they’re fucking fantastic. It’s so exciting and exhilarating for us to watch them play. I know Lindsey was totally into Brody Dalle. That was really a big thing for Lindsey when she was young; you know, this punk, strong female. I know she really loves Brody Dalle. Generationally, that may have skipped me somehow. It’s funny how that works. Probably for me, my favorite musician in all honesty is Thom Yorke. I know that’s totally unrelated to what we do, but I just can’t get enough of him. I can’t get enough of Radiohead either. Also, Led Zeppelin. Their creativity and freedom of their music is so fresh. It’s even, like, phunky-with-a-“ph.” They basically invented the music that plays under Rap.
IC: Who would you consider to be a legendary artist?
DV: Tina Turner, Courtney Love, Led Zeppelin as a group, and John Lennon. He’s just so obvious. And Elliot Smith. He’s actually someone who Lindsey and I really love. He was one of the common musical grounds when we met. Beck is pretty legendary; I was just thinking of that song “Novacane” last night.
IC: What would you consider to be the breakthrough moment of Deap Valley?
DV: Lindsey may have a different moment than me…I’m not a very ‘moment-oriented’ person. I don’t even see things that way. I still see things as an ongoing struggle that’s like a marathon. I do think it was pretty exhilarating to sign a major label deal, but we knew the haul would be long after that, you know? That’s not the ticket.
IC: And playing Glastonbury and things like that weren’t major, pivotal moments?
DV: I guess a really pivotal show that we played was Redding last year. The tent was totally packed and the show was so transcendent. The show just went off without a hitch. It was epic and there was crowd surfing and weird, spontaneous jamming. We had adrenaline rushes and uncertainty. It was a real rock ‘n’ roll show. So that was a really awesome experience, a very high point.
IC: And you played Coachella?
DV: We did. Coachella was awesome. We were first on the stage, and it was a really stressful; very early morning of just go, go, go and then end up on stage, then get off. In my mind, there are so many weird things that happened the day we played Coachella. It was extremely stressful to get to our stage, and we didn’t think we would be on stage for that amount of time. My brother, his wife, and my niece came though, she was four, and I could see her sitting on my brother’s shoulders during the whole show. So that was cute.
IC: Do you have any festivals already planned for this next season?
DV: Yeah, we’ll be doing some. The Desert Daze festival on April 26th, it’s going to be amazing. It’s a very free-feeling festival. It’s small and intimate. It’s very different from Coachella. It’s small and free, not free like money, but free like free-feeling.
IC: The smaller festivals are the ones where you can really connect with your audience.
DV: I think so too, and I think it’s the kind of festival where the bands don’t mind wandering around, because it’s not an insanely overwhelming amount of people. It’s really going to be an awesome festival and it’s only one day and one night. That’s kind of my style, because it’s kind of hard for me to commit to an entire weekend, so it’s like, “oh, one day and one night?”
IC: Do you prefer festivals or a full-scale tour?
DV: It’s hard to say. They both have their ups and downs. They can both be really fantastic, gratifying experiences or adverse, terrible experiences. Touring, you can do ridiculously awesome stuff and you get to meet people who are your heroes who you watch from the side of the stage every night. That is pretty awesome.
IC: You toured with The Vaccines in 2012?
DV: Yeah! We toured with The Vaccines a bunch. One of the tours we did with them, Dive was actually on. That’s when we got really into Dive. They’re such a great live band and they were lovely people. We also toured with Muse, and we toured with Mumford & Sons. They really inspired us in so many ways. They’re really kind, well-adjusted people. They placed a huge emphasis on collaboration like they did back in the seventies. Like getting musicians together and just jamming. They’d have us on stage at the end of the night to do a cover version of something, and vice versa. That was just so awesome. They’re really about what music is about on a fundamental level, like collaboration and creation, and they feed off of their audience so much. So that was really inspiring to us. Even though it’s a different kind of music, it still made so much sense.
IC: They have an indie spirit in their work that comes through.
DV: I think it’s very cool how Marcus Mumford plays a kick-drum and tambourine peddle while he’s strumming. He’s also a great drummer. They’re all such great musicians.
IC: So, out of the bands and musicians out there today, who do you think has the stamina to become legendary artists? Think twenty, thirty years from now.
DV: Twenty, thirty years? Wow… Beyoncé.
IC: For sure. She’s already kind of legendary!
DV: Yeah, she is already legendary, huh? I think that in twenty years she’ll still be on everyone’s minds. There’s this band from Orange County called Kiev. They’re not very well known at the moment but I just see them going and going for decades and just getting better and better. Kiev will still be up to it.
IC: Do you have a longterm plan?
DV: We just go with the flow, but in terms of a longterm plan, I want to keep battling preconceived notions of women. I think there’s also a lot of ageism and focus towards women: we’re expected to be permanently young, which I’m rapidly moving away from, personally! I’m just getting older all the time! I think it would be badass of us to still be rocking out and still be doing what we do twenty, thirty years into the future. You know, people like Stevie Nicks and Madonna are still doing it.
IC: Yeah, Heart just performed.
DV: Heart is awesome! It’ll be interesting to see if legends can still be created on the levels of the ones that we’ve talked about. The way that the world moves so fast, and the way that attention spans are so short—everything is so rapid, and the sands of time cover shit up so much faster now. Shit is covered up six months later. Who knows who the legends of tomorrow are? It would be awesome if it could be Deap Valley. Oh, Jack White. I bet he’ll still be doing awesome shit.
IC: Are there any particular projects you have going on that you’re excited about?
DV: We’re writing our second record, and we have been doing some collaborating with Nick Zinner from Yeah Yeah Yeahs, which is such an honor. Speaking of legends, Karen O! For me, Karen O picks up where Courtney Love left off in terms of strong, confrontational female performance. So that’s been really cool; she’s awesome to work with. We’re just trying to figure out what record two is. We’re working the title out right now. It’s a really interesting place to be; on the verge of trying to figure out what the second record is all about. It’s a little scary, but at the same time it’s exciting because it’s a fresh place to start.
IC: Is that your big project for 2014?
DV: Yeah, that’s our main focus. We’re going to be doing some touring. Our main focus is going to be record two. Like, what is the logical flow? What do we want to say? What do we want to comment on?
IC: Do you know when the album will actually be releasing?
DV: No. I’m hoping we can get it out this year, but it really depends on so many things. We are going to be touring for a few months this year and we don’t write on tour. Typically, we’re in performance mode, not writing. So, who can say? The future is pretty uncertain right now. But, we’re going to make our second record, and that’ll hopefully come out by the end of this year or early next year. We’ve made one record, but when you make a second record, you really start to have a body of work. I know for myself personally, I like to go really deep with artists. I usually get into them once they have two records out, so I can consistently listen to them. Just go on a longer journey with them. Like Tame Impala – I didn’t know who they were until they had two records out, and then I listened to them and was like ‘This is the greatest shit I’ve ever heard.’
IC: Do you have any words of wisdom to keep you going?
DV: Yeah! I guess, ‘Live your legend’ and ‘Be good to yourself.’
Make sure to pick up a copy of The Untitled Magazine‘s “Legendary” issue 7 for more on our music legends here now.
Go behind the scenes with Deap Vally & Indira Cesarine in our video of the shoot!
Interview by Indira Cesarine for The Untitled Magazine
Photography by Indira Cesarine for The Untitled Magazine
Fashion Editor / Styling by Indira Cesarine
Hair & Makeup by Roberto Morelli
Shot 1: Julie wears a kimono top by Jennifer Kate, dress by Alon Livine, sunglasses by Mecura, earrings by Delphine Charlotte Parmentier, ring by Dark + Dawn with vintage jewelry. Lindsay wears a jumpsuit by Anna Sui, sequin sweater by Bernshaw, necklace by Pluma Italia, and earrings by Delphine Charlotte Parmentier.
Shot 2: Lindsay wears a crystal bra by Harlequin Fantasy, necklace by Dark + Dawn, chain top by Katrina Schnakl, pink booties by Ask Alice, her own custom sequin shorts and sunglasses by Mecura. Julie wears a bustier by The Blonds, leather leggings by Lauren Bagliore, ring by Dark + Dawn, earrings by Delphine Charlotte Parmentier, sunglasses by Mecura, with her own vintage jewelry.