An Interview With The Psychedelic Rockers HELIOTROPES On Their Forthcoming Sophomore Album And More!
Posted On 25 May 2016
Heliotropes is a Brooklyn-based band made up of Jessica Numsuwankijkul, Gregg Giuffre, Richard Thomas and Ricci Swift.
They will release their sophomore full-length record through The End Records on July 15th. Entitled “Over There That Way”, this forthcoming collection is a departure in genre from their 2013 debut, “A Constant Sea.”
On this new record, Heliotropes create a much more subdued sound while still exploring depression, sadness and persevering through it all. Two tracks that can be heard now are “Normandy” and “Easy.”
To pre-order the album, click here: http://www.theomegaorder.com/HELIOTROPES
Learn more about Heliotropes in the following All Access interview:
Thanks so much for your time today! So, how’s 2016 been treating the band so far? What were some of the highlights of 2015 for you all?
2016’s been a fine year: we’re focusing on putting our album out in July. 2015 was a hibernation. We spent it thinking about how and where to release the album and playing some shows. Highlight was probably playing with Matt + Kim at Music Hall of Williamsburg and actually being given the shrimp cocktail on our rider, even though it was a shrimp salad suspended in mayonnaise.
How did Heliotropes first come together?
I posted a Craigslist ad while bored at my first office job. My old band-mate Amber responded and we met and hung out all day and didn’t play music. I don’t think we got serious about playing music until a couple of years later. Before that we were just messing around and trying to play Brian Eno covers with analog instruments until we realized it would just be way easier to play rock music.
I understand that you collaborate with a group of musicians for each album? Can you talk about choosing to do this? How do you go about selecting the musicians?
It’s not a conscious decision to collaborate with different people for each recording. It’s more about who is present in addition to who is a great player. I think line-up changes are more frequent in bands during this day and age because monetizing your music is so much harder than it used to be – so one’s ability to dedicate themselves to music is pretty diminished if they’re also preoccupied with making a living. I think many bands tend to have a rotating cast of musicians because of all of this and people relocating, etc. , Heliotropes included.
In July, you will release your first album with The End Records. What was it like putting a together an album with a new label? Why do you think they are the right for you and your music today?
It’s great to work with The End. We’d been in and out of touch for a few years so it’s excellent to make our relationship a real one. Andreas, Jon and Leo especially we’ve been working closely with and they’re super supportive.
How do you think your sound has changed over the years? What has remained the same?
It’s an ebb and flow, I guess. I try not to think about it too much. I’m fine with writing stuff that doesn’t sound like my previous work. If you can’t write what you want to write, there’s no point in writing unless you’re writing for someone else and receiving loads of money for it.
Over There That Way is more lucid and broad to me. I was listening to a lot of George Harrison and Lee Hazlewood. I wanted to play with guitarmonies for their nostalgic value. I wrote a duet about a WWII sniper. I wasn’t trying to hit everyone over the head with my pain like I was during A Constant Sea. We’ve already gotten some angry responses to the shift in direction. When we released “Easy” as the first track since A Constant Sea, this person tweeted that she disapproved of how melodic it was how terrible it was that we were no longer an “all-girl” band and how “something was rotten in Brooklyn” because of it. That kind of vitriol is surprising to me. I didn’t think anyone was paying that much attention or that the way the band looked was so subject to such incredibly close scrutiny.
Who are some of your favorite musicians? What artists have continued to inspire you and the group’s music? Who would you love to work with in the future?
Current bands I’m into are probably Mitski, PWR BTTM and Very Fresh. I’d love to work with Pall Jenkins of Black Heart Procession/3-mile pilot. And Billy Corgan, but that would be more performance art because he would probably end up yelling at me. The Smashing Pumpkins are still my favorite band of all time, though. And Prefab Sprout.
Can you recall a favorite show thus far? What really makes an amazing show for Heliotropes?
My favorite show ever was probably the Pussy Riot benefit show we played at Death By Audio (RIP)a couple years ago. Ad-Rock DJ’ed before we went on. Everyone was enthused and dancing around and there was the world’s most polite circle pit during our set. That’s unusual in Brooklyn.
At the end of the day, what do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope listeners take away from your songs?
Heliotropes is pretty personal in nature. There isn’t an overarching message, but I’m a fan of music with an overt political agenda and support musicians who are doing that.