records dusty cannot live without: the smiths, the smiths
neil young, after the goldrush
my bloody valentine, loveless
red house painters, II
augustus pablo, meets rockers uptown
stars of the lid, the tired sounds of
spacemen 3, losing touch with your mind
the wu-tang clan, the w
depeche mode, black celebration
cocteau twins with harold budd, the moon and the melodies
records ellen cannot live without: del, “motorbike annie/gypsy girl” (7″ single) I’m completely besotted with “motorbike annie.” I searched for a copy of this single that wouldn’t break my bank for more than a decade before finally, joyously finding one a few years back.
bee gees, odessa every bee gees album through the ’70s is essential for me, but this one has so many special songs.
the hollies, dear eloise/king midas in reverse I’m particularly keen on the title tracks and “would you believe?” on this album.
françoise hardy, la question it’s hard to choose between this one and ma jeunesse fout le camp, but la question is so hauntingly beautiful.
gilberto gil, self-titled (1968) this album is a wild journey. there’s not a bad moment on it.
beach boys, love you while not as transcendent as other beach boys releases, I adore this one. it makes me laugh, it makes me cry.
abba, super trouper the title track is fantastic, but even talking about “the winner takes it all” can bring me to tears. it’s such a heartbreaker.
eux autres, hell is eux eutres I love the exuberance of this record. I was working with nick when it came out and timidly asked him to ask his sister if she would join an all-female bee gees cover band with me (she fortunately agreed).
small faces, self-titled (1967) my ultimate thrift-store fantasy is to find a sealed original mono copy of this favorite small faces record in the bins. a lady can dream…
it’s been 23 years since rocketship released its wonderful debut LP, a certain smile, a certain sadness, and on october 11 the band is releasing a new album, thanks to you. songwriter and band leader dusty reske heard a felt song back in those days and rocketship was born. these days he lives in portland, oregon, and collaborates with ellen osborn and adam bayer. dusty thinks a certain smile still resonates with people in their twenties, but that people get more complicated as they get older. “thanks to you is for all the fucked-up children of this world,” he says. “I’m drawn toward melancholy pop and tend to stress that innate juxtaposition in all of my own compositions and recordings. in my lyrics now I use a broader lexicon, yet the subjects reflect much of the same longing for love and connection through dysfunction and alienation as always.” head to rocketshipmusic.com, patreon.com/rocketship, darla and bandcamp to get the new record and find out more. we chatted with him over the summer at a portland bar about music, family, gentrification and climate change, among other things. interview by gail o’hara
chickfactor: how long have you lived in portland? dusty: I think 13 or 14 years. where are you from? dusty: I was born in san francisco, and I lived in the wine country in sonoma county for years until the end of elementary school, then I moved to texas for a decade until my senior year. I lived in dallas and then houston and then austin a little while for college, and then I moved to sacramento when I was 17. did your parents move there for work? dusty: my mother’s new husband was from texas. strangely they thought there wasn’t enough opportunity in sonoma so they went to texas and texas was about to boom. why/how did you end up in portland? dusty: my partner at the time was going to move from brooklyn, where she had been living for 15 years or something. she was going to move back to the west coast—she was from the bay area as well. I was living in arcata. was that cynthia nelson? dusty: yes. after sacramento I moved to arcata in my late 20s. (we talk about kendra smith, who doesn’t live in arcata, but in the region. I interviewed her for cf18.) you and cynthia have two kids? dusty: yes, aurelia is 12 and leo is 8. are they musical? dusty: I wouldn’t say so. they’re both really into literature, reading a lot. leo is now getting into sports a bit. aurelia is into drawing. kendra actually has a song called “aurelia.” is that why you chose the name? dusty: it wasn’t, I came across the song later. are they quiet readers? dusty: they’re not quiet readers. they occasionally throw the books across the room. they’re not too into music yet, not rock music. aurelia has been in the portland girl choir for a while. leo will sometimes hit the drums. what do they think of your music? dusty: I don’t know if they hear it that much. I never throw on an old record but they hear cynthia and I composing our music around the house a lot, but that’s always in bits and pieces when we’re trying to figure something out. cynthia and I will play a lot of covers, again trying to figure out new material. but it’s just something that’s always in the background in the kitchen, not something they have to deal too much with. It’s just something they know their parents do. what do you think about portland now? dusty: yeah. I’m an absolute proponent of infill ecologically but it’s hard to deal with the neighborhoods changing so much. I can see why they tear down old shacks and put up duplexes. isn’t infill just high density? why are people against it? dusty: I’m not exactly sure. people do like their single-family homes and maybe only want to live on a block that has single-family homes, what they’re used to. apartment complexes are often stigmatized because they’re where poor people live or people with modest means. there’s often a lot of NIMBY-ism around that. I suspect that their disgruntled-ness is misplaced and it’s actually the new people that are more the problem. the houses are all okay, but it’s this new wave of middle-class consumers who are displacing all the artists. it does seem like californians are often blamed/demonized here but people are moving here from everywhere, right? gentrification is a tricky subject with a lot of different levels: one business opened on mississippi ave. and others followed and now the neighborhood is unrecognizable to many locals. can you blame the original business that was just looking for a place they could afford? change is inevitable but how does the city keep the original community from disappearing?
dusty: I agree. it used to feel more grassroots: somebody who was kind of scrappy put together the money and got some couches and started a coffee shop. that’s a little romantic. it seemed more down-home. and now it just feels like massive capital infusions from above that come in and change a street like division so that it’s just a new city there. it used to be open fields and they built a new city. cf: that block on fremont between vancouver and williams used to be a field and now it’s that spaceship-looking office for instrument across from a new seasons. people who work there probably bought up a lot of the homes around there. dusty: they could afford it. when we bought our house, it seemed like it was the least expensive house in NE and we fixed it up a little bit over time but our mortgage is still really low from so long ago. now we have people who come in with really serious middle-class jobs working 40 hours and they can’t afford to buy a house in our neighborhood and so they’re renting. enough about gentrification! has rocketship been going this whole time? dusty: I’ve always been doing music but I’ve taken long periods off. when I moved to arcata, I got really into social activism so I was going to meetings all the time: food not bombs, the free bike program, all kinds of things that people were doing, zines. I didn’t have time for music. do you still do that stuff now? dusty: the activism? I’m embarrassed to say no. I’m not social enough, I’m a little too shy and awkward. I’d like to be involved more. I keep up with politics but now it’s just donations. portland is great because everyone shows up for everyone else’s rallies, but there’s also a fair bit of bickering and infighting within the left that takes everything off course. dusty: activism used to be a thing I could just hop on my bike and go do but now it involves other people’s schedules. when I first moved to town, I worked at the alberta co-op for almost a decade. we had a big action there where we turned it into a worker-run collective. we got rid of the management structure. but it was hard too: there was a lot of fallout and infighting among the folks who had been allies. what do you do to stay sane? dusty: ooh, I don’t know. I don’t know if I’ve figured that thing out. I don’t know if it keeps me sane but I have a lot of time to think while I’m working. I have a company that does ecological lawn care. I do lawn care and yard care by bike using all hand tools, just in NE portland. I’m fitter than I’ve ever been in my life and I’m outdoors all the time. I wanted to do something where I wasn’t on the computer all the time. it’s called eco-lawn care. did you do this before or just decide to start a company? dusty: pretty much the latter. I had a garden in the back, I had grown vegetables, and I’d been a bicyclist for many years, which is really important cause I’m hauling a lot of tools around. I’ve been riding my bike as my main transportation for 20 years. I was thinking about going back to school and I only have so many years left when I can even work so should I take on that much debt? it’s not rocket science, right? you just avoid using carcinogenic pesticides. there are so many stupid things humans have brought into our lives that we don’t really need: weed-wackers, gasoline mowers or those teeth flossers on a plastic stick. people love them, they’re so easy to use but if everyone uses those, we’re doomed. dusty: it’s funny you mentioned those. ellen has an instagram account [where she posts photos of those on the ground] and people respond to it: for whatever reason, people leave those things all over the city. but yeah, people don’t like the noise from leaf blowers and gas mowers. I was reading a statistic that the amount of gas that is spilled every year by people putting gas into their mowers is equal to an exxon valdez spill. that’s not even the pollution that comes out of the thing, and that’s just the US. what do you tell your kids about climate change? dusty: it comes up all the time. climate change is just one part of a complete ecological apocalypse that we’re approaching, not to overstate it: deforestation, loss of top soil, extinction, the list goes on and on. these subjects come up a lot when we’re explaining why we won’t buy a certain thing. portland used to be a green city, a green leader, but it doesn’t feel as much like that now. but at the same time there are people doing something on a small level and making a difference. dusty: we do have a lot of advantages here. the scale is of such a scope that I don’t think there is any hope. it’s just going to be really awful; the next century is going to be awful for young people. [heavy sigh] let’s get back to pop. what was your first concert? dusty: my mom took me to a bunch of stuff in the 1970s, I don’t know what it was. the first one I went to that I’m conscious of was ELO. I thought I was going to see the alan parsons project but I hadn’t realized how much I liked ELO, especially Xanadu. I think van halen was the second one. by myself it might have been the cure at an amusement park like six flags or something.
were you musical as a child? dusty: not really. my parents bought me a drum kit and a guitar when I was 13 or 14, thinking I was a little too shiftless. so I kind of fumbled my way around those for a long time. finally when I was 18 or 19, when I was in someone’s dorm and they were playing a song, I thought, I know all those chords. I can play a song. what was your first song about? dusty: when I lived in texas, in my junior year a bunch of fellows said let’s start a band. they had two-track cassettes. so we would just record some music and dub that onto the next track and add some tracks. that really meant a lot to me because I could suddenly see how you could make a recording. It had never occurred to me to do that. we made a cassette—I mean, it’s pretty funky, not-good music but it kind of caught on with people’s friends so people were playing it on the weekends. we kind of just wrote those songs together and a lot of it was first takes. when I moved to sacramento, I fell in with a fellow named josh berkley, who befriended me. we were in show choir together with purple sequins. he invited me out to his house and he had a four-track. we kept it in this comical vein, we couldn’t take it too seriously, laughable songs about people at school. that was our first exposure to songwriting. we did a cover version of “leave me alone” the very last song on power corruption and lies. for college I wanted to go back and visit with all my friends in texas. I moved back to austin for a bit. I came back for xmas in sacramento and josh had started a band, a synth-pop band with his buddy aaron. that was real compositions, serious attempts at making music and I was instantly sucked in. when I went back to texas, that’s all I could think about. I was listening to it on my walkman, on the bus, thinking, why am I going to this class so early in the morning? so my second semester I dropped out and moved back to california. you were like, I need to join this band! dusty: yes. when rocketship started, what were you listening to and what were you thinking you wanted it to be like? dusty: josh and I had been in a band for a while and we kinda had made our name around sacramento; we were called the rosebuds. we probably wrote 20 songs or something. we were listening to english shoegaze music and we were playing that a lot. after that fell apart, I wanted to shift gears. it was before slowcore really happened, but a lot of people were thinking the same thing. I wanted to do this really slow kind of music and bought this really old organ and brought it up to the second floor of this duplex and did a 4-track demo. I guess I wanted to sound like galaxie 500 or something. shoegaze music had become passé, so I sold all my pedals, got that money back and stripped everything back. I was also taking a recording class at sacramento city college. for some reason at the time they had a state grant that funded their studio—they had like a million dollars and they built a world-class studio. I came up with this band name—not original—“silver rocket”, based on the sonic youth song. I liked the contrast, I was doing this mellow organ music. this guy ed artegas, who was there with me suggested, why not call it rocketship? I knew this guy who’d been a fan of the rosebuds, robert cartwright, he played drums. so we started playing together and his girlfriend heidi (barney) had played piano in her youth. for me rocketship begins properly because they played me this felt album, let the snakes crinkle their heads to death. the very first track on that (“song for william s. harvey”), it was mind-blowing, this super-organ-driven pop song. by that time stereolab had come out so I think we were reassessing guitar rock, but for a long time before that you couldn’t have keyboards in your band. so I wrote “hey hey girl” when I was inspired by this upbeat pop sound that I heard on that felt record.
did you know rose melberg (who is from sacramento) and mike slumberland (who put out rocketship) in those days? dusty: no. so heidi worked at a coffee roasting house of all places that rose worked at. so she gave rose our tape and rose kinda liked it so we met her through heidi. tiger trap was really important in sacramento. when did ellen (osborn) join rocketship? she’s the other primary band member? dusty: yes, and I would include adam bayer. ellen and I are best friends too. I wanted to put together a live band for your show [chickfactor 25 party at bunk bar, portland, december 2017], and I met ellen through adam. she was just the kind of singer that I had always wanted to work with. and she was in an all-girl bee-gees cover band! dusty: right, the she-bee-gees. are there any platforms you like to use for making or listening to music? dusty: I still download stuff for free and put it on my music player at home. for recording I use a program called ableton live. I have a bunch of shared software. do you have any pets? dusty: a cat named crystal. do you have any idols? anyone you admire for their style or stagewear? dusty: I’m thinking early morrissey with the open shirt and gladioli. [we discuss the fall of moz] are you playing much these days? dusty: it takes a lot of effort—or it has in the past—to put together the kind of band that I want or that can play the material. It requires a certain amount of musicianship, certainly on the organ. heidi used to do these incredible things, doing arpeggios on electric piano while she’s playing chords and then taping down a moog note. it’s hard to find people who can do that. it requires rehearsal and we’re not at a level where we can count on getting paid so it really has to be for the love of it and people’s lives are so busy.
is that why you gravitate to more stripped-down live shows? dusty: I’m flirting with that more and more: a lot less gear that’s easier to play for people that can also replicate a lot of the more modern sounds. I’m not in love with a loud drum kit where everything then has to get loud. it’s environmental noise pollution and it damages people’s bodies. it’s hard to know how big your audience out there in the world is because people haven’t seen you play much in a long time. dusty: we did popfest a few years ago in new york, san francisco and sacramento. I don’t like playing live that much partially because—at least in the kind of music that I play—it’s so repetitive. it’s not necessarily very creative. for me all the pleasure is in writing and recording the songs. by the time I’m done recording it, I’ve heard it thousands of times, and adjusted it and the minutiae and all the different ways that are meaningful to me, it’s hard for me to just hear it back in a way. I get particular about trying to re-create the recordings and how all the details are supposed to go live. So that presents its own challenge. it’s hard for me to just get together with a bunch of people and bash it out. what’s coming up for you and rocketship? dusty: our new record! I’m making 10 videos for it and that’s all planned out. before I met you today, I was working on the next record. so in the next 10 years, I’m going to be putting out lots and lots of material. that’s the plan. thank you, dusty!
our intrepid webstress janice headley (also of KEXP & copacetic zine fame) flew across the atlantic to brave scorching august heat, put on a life jacket and hit the high seas with the boaty weekender gang (kinda like the bowlie weekender but on a fancy cruise ship, 20 years later, and twee AF). for those of us too skint to go, here’s a peek into what went down.
words by janice headley • photographs courtesy janice headley and the boaty weekender
for me, the boaty weekender began with a guitar case crashing onto my foot. we were still at the hotel in barcelona, wheeling our luggage down to the shuttle bus that was going to take us to the cruise ship. I greedily refused to let go of my kas, a delicious orange soda drink that’s only available in spain, mexico and france, and was available in portugal, brazil, and argentina during the 1990s. (thanks, wikipedia!) at some point in the elevator, my boyfriend joe accidentally let a guitar case roll forward, right where my sandaled foot happened to be. I yelped, tried to push it off of me using my elbow (since my hand was still gripped around the tasty, tasty beverage), joe grabbed my drink to try and help, and then *DING* the elevator doors opened, and standing there was the gallant norman blake of teenage fanclub, who graciously took my beverage from joe while I stumbled out, hopping on one un-squished foot. embarrassing. what a gentleman. and that was how my boaty weekender began. (thank you, norman. no thanks to you, kas soda.) (no, I take it back, you’re too delicious to be mad at.)
we all boarded the bus that took us to the norwegian pearl cruise ship, which was huge. I’d never taken a cruise before in my life, so I was awestruck by the size of this thing. passes acquired, forms filled out, we boarded the boat, and headed to our lodging. music by the bands playing the event was piped into the hallways, and on the televisions in our rooms, concert footage of belle & sebastian played all day and night.
the boaty weekender, for anyone who doesn’t already know, was a four-day “floating festival and luxury cruise around the mediterranean” starting in barcelona, landing in sardinia, Italy, for a day, and then returning to barcelona. the event was organized by belle & sebastian and featured special guests yo la tengo, camera obscura, teenage fanclub, mogwai, the vaselines, django django, alvvays, the buzzcocks, japanese breakfast, kelly lee owens, nilüfer yanya, and, if you can believe it, more. in fact, despite it being a four-day event, I didn’t get to see every band play, not by a longshot. there were five different stages across the ship, and the sets often overlapped. but, here are a couple of notes on just a few of the bands I did manage to see. (I tried to write about all of them and even bored myself, so here’s an abbreviated take.)
the vaselines “who here has heard of the love boat?… creepy, wasn’t it?”so chirped the effervescent frances mckee during the vaselines’ first set, which just happened to be booked at the same time as an artist meet-and-greet on a different floor of the boat. (“we don’t need their party, we’re having our own party,” she insisted brightly.) she looked adorable in a hawaiian print dress while her bandmate eugene kelly wore a simple black tee.
the stage was on the floor where the check-in counters lined the back of the room, so there was a funny juxtaposition of employees helping customers while the vaselines tore through “sex with an ex” and “molly’s lips.” there was also a large jewelry retail area to the side of the room where no one was shopping. “I get really seasick, but I think gin and tonics should help,” she declared. “diamonds really help, too,” she quickly added.
the vibe reminded me a lot of matador 21 (which happened in a vegas casino in 2010), if you went to that. I had a lot of people tell me it reminded them of all tomorrow’s parties, too. waiters in yellow polo shirts walked the room, offering to get people drinks. you could actually buy drink packages ensured to keep the alcohol flowing all boaty weekend long. (hi, julie!)
belle & sebastian seagulls swarmed as the band played on the top deck of the boat. stuart murdoch was wearing naval white pants, a striped tank top, and a captain’s hat, while guitarist bobby kildea wore a full-on sailor’s suit.
the band played “dog on wheels,” “I’m a cuckoo,” “she’s losing it,” “another sunny day,” “stars of track and field,” the new single “sister buddha,” and the song “sweet julie” which made stuart remark, “doesn’t that sound like the love boat theme?” stevie jackson nodded, “it does, doesn’t it?”
they continued to play as the sun descended and darkness rolled in. by the end of their set, the moon was shining vibrantly from above.
band name bingo this was not as exciting as I had hoped it would be. (sorry, boaty-ers.) I liked the concept of band names instead of letter/number combos, but the execution was a little weak.
the first round, the band names were just shouted out, but the following rounds, only trivia on the bands were revealed and it was up to you to know if the band was on your card or not. for example: “this band’s frontman was freddie mercury.” (that’s a real example, I’m sad to say.)
the evening was co-hosted by stina of honeyblood, who was wearing an adorable two-piece with fantastic strappy platform sandals. the crowd booed whenever a bad band came up (sorry mumford & sons) and it was quick to correct the hosts when they mispronounced a scottish city.
teenage fanclub the fellas were in fine form and their harmonies were pitch perfect all performance. I somehow missed the news that euros childs had joined the band following gerard love’s departure, so I was delighted to see him on stage adding his gorgeous vocals.
they closed with “everything flows”—a perfect song for the cruise, except I want the captain to set a course he doesknow, thank you very much.
band t-shirts spotted R.E.M. new pornographers teenage fanclub (also in tote bag form) belle & sebastian
wind down meditation I’m embarrassed to admit I slept in this day and missed the buzzcocks, kelly lee owens, django django, and/or alvvays, as well as the collage club gathering. there was a lot of stuff scheduled for earlier in the day!
ironically, for a girl who overslept, I first headed over to the “wind down meditation” session with gen kelsang machig, a representative from the kadampa meditation centre glasgow with 15 years of experience. she led us in a quiet meditation session that was just lovely. after it was over, she told the audience, “If you have any questions, just find me on the boat, I’m the only one dressed like this,” referring to her traditional garb. (and I did find her later in an elevator!)
belle & sebastian Q&A I made it up to the pool deck for most of the belle & sebastian Q&A, which was moderated by comedian alex edelman, who joked that scottish people keep all their emotions bottled up and communicate instead through belle & sebastian songs. the questions were all very thoughtful and serious, even leading stuart to say, “c’mon, don’t you want to ask us about your futures? we are all clairvoyants, you know.”
wine tasting with neil and ira ira (of yo la tengo, natch)’s brother neil “has 25 years of sales and support experience in the wine and spirits industry as well as advanced wine certification.” (thank you, google!) so, the siblings teamed up for an evening of wine tasting. I don’t like red wine, so I didn’t go, but joe tells me toward the end of the tasting, they did, indeed, break out a riesling. (sigh.)
camera obscura it’s been so long since I’ve seen camera obscura in concert, I had forgotten how good they are live. they did “let’s get out of this country,” “the sweetest thing,” “desire lines,” and, of course, “lloyd, I’m ready to be heartbroken.” hearing their harmonies was absolutely awe-inspiring and made me miss my karaoke bestie, laura. (hi, laura!)
japanese breakfast I bounced back to the atrium to see japanese breakfast next. she was looking super smart in an ’80s-inspired power suit with a crop top underneath. she smiled a lot during their set. their drummer is serious about his mullet. she would step aside when the guitarist had a gnarly solo.
yo la tengo they started off their pool deck performance joined by euros childs for a rendition of “sea cruise.” (you know, that vintage song that’s all “oooh-eee, oooh-eee baby.”) and then norman and raymond from teenage fanclub joined them for a few songs, including fan favorite “stockholm syndrome.” I can’t remember what else they performed; I took lousy notes.
band t-shirts spotted: camera obscura belle & sebastian paul mccartney (???)
cagliari, sardinia not a band, but the city that we ported in for the day. joe and I took a taxi to the beach and soaked up the sun and the crystal-clear blue, blue water for most of the morning before returning to the city and having the most amazing lunch, thanks to neil kaplan’s recommendation.
band t-shirts spotted: japanese breakfast the breeders ween (ween?) austin city limits with paul mccartney (him again?) daniel johnston (thanks, james!) radiohead
yoga with frances mckee I was scared to take this class, but knew I couldn’t let the opportunity to take yoga with the woman from the vaselines pass me by. she’s a really good teacher. I didn’t realize it, but apparently she runs a yoga studio, so that explains it.* she’s kinda hardcore though; imagine her sharp scottish accent barking, “straighten yer legs! don’t look at what yer neighbor is doin’! don’t forget to breathe!” (*editor: read all about it in CF18)
belle & sebastian perform fold your hands child, you walk like a peasant after repeat viewings of both the vaselines and japanese breakfast, I ran over to the stardust theatre to watch belle & sebastian perform their 2000 album fold your hands child, you walk like a peasant in its entirety. I feel bad, because when it first came out, I didn’t like this album very much. but I loved hearing it live. once the album was played, they began taking audience requests, which was a little clumsy with lots of awkward moments as they tried to remember how to play forgotten songs. and there was a cute moment where they got a bunch of kids from the boat, dressed up in their nautical finest, to shake percussion during “legal man.”
yo la tengo on sunday night, yo la tengo took the pool side stage for the second time for another awesome set. about midway through the set, a very handsome man took the stage and began to recite the opening prose to donovan’s 1969 surprise hit single “atlantis,” a song that went to #7 on the billboard charts upon its release. (thank you, wikipedia!) this wonderful performance was the paramount of a spectacular weekend, and I called it a night thereafter ’cause I knew everything else would pale in comparison.
band t-shirts spotted: eugenius teenage fanclub beat happening spiritualized british sea power
(P.S. final word from james yo la tengo, who we asked to comment on the boaty cuisine: “the food on the boat was good and readily available. the soft-serve was a nice touch. there were a few restaurants on the boat, where you could sit and someone would take your order. there was also a wildly popular buffet-style full contact scrum which was pretty fun. I didn’t locate any scottish-themed food, but maybe I just wasn’t looking hard enough.”)
I was the Music Editor from Time Out New York from 1996–2000, so I had the privilege of playing records for musicians like these four. Because TimeOut was so densely packed, it had to get cut down for space (hence no introduction) but is still very good, as you’d expect. RIP, David.
Our friend Michael Galinsky (also of the band Sleepyhead) is a fearless and prolific photographer (and filmmaker) who has been out there everywhere snapping away for the past 30 years. His body of work features street photography from Iraq, stunning portraits of tiny baby Chan Marshall and teenage Mary Timony and so so so much more. His latest book, the Decline of Mall Civilization, is currently being kickstarted and it shows what North Carolina malls looked like 30 years ago. Order your copy now or just pitch in a few bucks!
if you’re here, chances are you adore music by talulah gosh, heavenly, marine research and tender trap. the odds are good, then, that you already like the catenary wires, featuring indiepop royals amelia fletcher and rob pursey. they’ve just released a new album, til the morning, on tapete records and are heading out on tour just now. we caught up with them about their band, their kids, and their lives in kent these days. interview by gail o
chickfactor: what did you set out to sound like with the catenary wires?
amelia:initially we were aiming to sound really minimal. we had moved to the countryside and didn’t know anyone, so we started out as just the two of us playing at home, late at night, with our daughter’s small acoustic guitar. on the first album (red red skies), we wanted to retain that homespun melancholic intimacy, so we kept the instrumentation very simple. this had the upside that we worked really hard on the songwriting and the lyrics, but we ended up feeling that the songs were almost forced to do too much because the instrumentation wasn’t doing enough. we decided to see if we could find a way to achieve the same intimacy, while creating something more musically interesting too.
rob:we wanted it to sound full and rich, but we didn’t want it to sound like any of our previous bands (with a standard rhythm section and standard instruments driving everything). so we recorded the guitar and singing first, knowing that this might be enough, then added the other instruments—and then, if we felt we needed any, we added drums. so, the whole thing was recorded upside down, really. the ‘drums’ were often a piece of wood dropped on the floor, or a metal agricultural trailer being hit. we wrote the songs and recorded them in a fairly remote, rural place, and we wanted the record to sound like that.
cf: tell us a bit more about the new album.
amelia: we are really pleased with how it has worked out. it is made up of twelve songs which are pretty varied but have lots of common thematic threads, both lyrically and musically. we recorded the album with andy lewis. we met him when he was playing with the indie band spearmint, but we were impressed by his far wider set of music references, such as having produced judy dyble (fairport convention), having played bass with paul weller and DJ-ing 60s soul records. he was also happy to work with us to record it at home. his theory is that wherever you can plug in a kettle, you can make an album. so we decided to test that out. I think my favourite song is “dream town,” partly because I don’t think it quite sounds like anything else, partly because I find it moving, and partly because it feels very real to me. more prosaically, it is also one of the most jointly written of the songs, in that we both wrote parts of the tune and both wrote parts of the lyrics. a lot of the songs are co-written to some extent, but we rarely hit that degree of balance.
rob: the building where we recorded the music is not soundproofed, so you can occasionally hear birds tweeting in the background, and other rustic noises too. the songs are not exactly idyllic though, so hopefully these gentle rural sounds feel poignant rather than whimsical. we are always a bit paranoid about turning into folk musicians, I don’t know why, but here we are, recording gentle songs in lovely countryside with the birds tweeting away in the background. we discussed this issue with andy, and have made sure that the birds have reverb on them, so they aren’t too ‘pastoral’.
cf: has becoming parents influenced the music that you’re making?
rob: I’m sure it has, in many ways. sometimes very literally. for example, the lyrics to “hollywood” are a reaction to our daughters’ love of US TV shows, US YouTubers, the ongoing dream of fame and celebrity in L.A. because of my old job (running a TV drama company), I saw the process up close and I am very aware of the gap between the dream and reality. I think the harvey weinstein scandal was breaking at the time too. in the last bit of the song, my voice is his voice, and the voice of many other male directors and producers, telling the young actress to give a performance that is disingenuous and potentially exploitative.
on top of that, we get to hear a lot of the music they like. quite a lot of it is about falling in love, how great it is to kiss someone etc.—just like pop music has always been. so we redressed the balance by doing songs about divorce, falling out of love, adultery etc.
we are also influenced by living with our mothers. amelia’s mum passed away last autumn—she had parkinson’s disease so took quite a lot of looking after. my mum is with us still, and is very fit and well. but both of them lost their husbands and had to face life on their own again. they both experienced the ultimate, un-wished for divorce. and I think that influenced a few of our songs.
amelia: having to be at home to look after my mum also influenced our decision to record the album at home. at the time, we thought we might be making a compromise in not using a proper studio, but actually working at home allowed us more flexibility to try things and gave the whole album a better sense of place, as per rob’s comments about the birds, above. we used local musicians too, including a fluegelhorn player and trombonist from the village, who usually play in military bands but really enjoyed having to turn their hand to indie! we have ended up filming our videos very locally too and editing them ourselves at home. it just seems in keeping.
cf: are your daughters recording and playing shows these days? do tell. rob: dora’s band (wait what) seem to have stopped. they’ve all been doing their GCSE exams, so maybe that’s why. they are more sensible than we are. dora’s still playing the guitar though, and I reckon she will find herself in another band. I hope so. I think it just depends on meeting the right people to be in a band with. ivy is also playing a lot of music, and is a very good singer. she sings ‘properly’. earlier this evening she was doing a rendition of “back to black” by amy winehouse. that’s who she sounds like. how terrifying!
cf: what’s happening in kent these days? are there any good musicians or bands coming from the region?
amelia: a strange thing happened when we met our producer, andy lewis. it turned out that he already knew the tiny village in kent where we live—which no one has usually ever heard of—because he had just finished recording an album here with fay hallam. it turned out that she was a neighbour who lived about 6 doors away from us. we in fact already knew about her music but were totally unaware of her proximity! she is a really great hammond player and singer and she ended up both playing on the album and becoming a member of the live band.
rob: in a pub down the road, on the second tuesday of every month, the local folk singers gather and take it in turns to sing their trad songs. I really like it, and maybe when I am 75 I will see if they let me join in.
cf: what’s in the fridge? what’s in the picnic basket?
rob: in the fridge, there is a lot of daal and cauliflower curry, cos we made far too much of it yesterday. there is a pot of crab apple jelly that my dad made. there are bottles of beer. and there are parsnips. not sure what to do about them.
amelia: there is nothing in the picnic basket. but at least there isa picnic basket. which means one day there might even be a picnic! you never know.
cf: what records do you play more than anything?
amelia:we get force-fed a lot of car seat headrest, brockhampton and billie eilish by the girls, all of which are really pretty good. if we are allowed to play anything ourselves, I usually find myself heading for the delgados (older) and girl ray (newer). rob is a bit obsessed with sleaford mods. we also keep on listening to some of the great duettists, such as nancy and lee, serge gainsbourg and brigitte bardot, johnny cash and june carter, just to see how they go about making duets work. we still feel we have a lot to learn on that front.
cf: is there any news about your previous bands (reissues, etc.)?
rob: I don’t think so. personally, I like leaving those things as they are. you can hear most of it online if you want to, and I think it’s a bit odd when bands start behaving like their own archivists. we did just discover a cache of old T-shirts—talulah gosh, heavenly etc. I took pictures of amelia wearing them (the history of our bands in T-shirt form, see more on our instagram: @thecatenarywires) and we put them online. actually, sorry, there was one shirt that was an XL, so I had to wear that one. anyway, it was much-liked by the indie fraternity, so that probably goes to show that there is an appetite for the old stuff. I also found the old U-Matic video of ‘I fell in love last night’, the first heavenly single. I’ll get it digitised at some point and stick it online so people can watch it again, if they like.
amelia:well damaged goods did reissue all the talulah gosh stuff recently, so we do let these things happen sometimes. I’d personally quite like to do a ‘greatest hits’ that covers all our bands. but we’d probably end up having such big arguments about what actually were the ‘greatest hits’ that it may not be worth it!
cf: what’s a good story about john jervis you can tell us?
rob: john’s girlfriend, alexandra, is an amazing knitter and maker of clothes, and john is now mostly dressed in things that she makes. he looks very stylish, these days.
cf: who is your favorite london band these days?
rob: I’m embarrassed to say that I don’t really know. I spend too much time in kentish pubs listening to octogenarian folk singers and have lost touch with the capital, and its young people.
cf: what are the catenary wires up to this summer?
rob: we are playing at indietracks! we will spend a lot of time with the kids, once school breaks up. we are going on holiday with them, to jamaica. we don’t normally do that sort of holiday, but I help out with a charity that’s based over there, so that’s our pretext. we are also going to visit athens, georgia, and new york, and will be playing a couple of catenary wires shows—just as a duo. most of our gigs these days are as a five-piece (with andy lewis on bass, fay hallam on keyboard and ian button on drums), but we like going back to the duo format occasionally.
amelia:we are really just on holiday in america too, but we thought we would slip in as many shows as the kids would accept, which ended up being just two. they are semi-tolerant of, but not at all impressed by, our indie antics. CF
we’re publishing a few of our polls that were left out of CF18.
daniel handler (lemony snicket):if I didn’t live near amoeba records and wander the aisles once a month, I would have absolutely no idea what is going on. stephin the magnetic fields:without convenient access to record stores, it has become practically impossible to find anything I like from this century. on the other hand it has become much easier to find french baroque harpsichord music. sukhdev cf: I don’t listen to much american music any more. sweden, france, japan are more important to me. (perhaps that’s chickfactor’s influence.) shawn belschwender:without chickfactor, I’m like a blind man groping an elephant. I don’t know what anything is. so I rush right back to the safety of NWBHM bands. clarissa cf: in the early days of chickfactor, my musical discovery sources were equal parts kim’s underground, wfmu, going to shows by artists I liked and getting there in time for the opening acts, and people on whom I had crushes sending me mix tapes. these days, my main source of musical discovery is looking at joel whitburn’s top r&b singles 1942–1996 and then finding artists I’ve never heard from it on spotify. I’d also say going to starbucks, but for the past eight months the only song they’ve played is rostam’s “bike dream” on continuous repeat. also, the golden age of chickfactor, as well as everything else, is right now. mac merge/superchunk:weirdly not much—though I throw away fewer tapes now that everyone’s demo is a soundcloud page. bandcamp is a great way to discover stuff which didn’t exist then, but there were more record store employees to recommend stuff back then. gaylord cf/wfmu: it really hasn’t, though nowadays I can’t bend down to look at records without throwing my back out. ashley cf: I’ve died a little on the inside. I just listen to NPR and podcasts now. I hear it’s much easier to discover new music now but it just seems overwhelming. michael white: like everyone else, it’s mostly online now—which, of course, isn’t as romantic as, say, seeing something interesting looking in other music and taking a chance on it, but it also means I don’t waste $35 on some japanese import I subsequently discover is terrible. evelyn cotton candy: I guess I don’t read zines as much, so new music is more word of mouth. kevin the hairs: I feel a bit more out of touch. I see what friends are listening to or what reviews I come across or what bands my friends are listening to or recommend. lisa levy: I still mainly hear about bands through friends, though pandora and spotify also occasionally come through with something interesting. joe the pines/foxgloves: I’ve gone from listening to radio 1 to listening to radio 2 to listening to bbc 6music. the same disc jockeys eventually turn up on all three, and steve lamacq is still playing mega city four and kingmaker. jeff drawing room records: hmm… well… the internet has sped up my discovery to ultra-fast light-speed. I tend to self-research more instead of seeking out the good tastes of friends and acquaintances. as I’m older too, I’m more open to lots of different sounds than when I was younger and stauncher in terms of music I enjoyed. tom square cotton candy:being currently 28, my musical discovery process pretty much began around chickfactor’s golden age.
kendall mascott interviews the detroit-based pop queen
anna burch makes music that is nothing short of addictive, with songs chock full of singalong choruses and lyrics that feel like secrets. she has been a music maker for a while now, performing as a side lady for michigan-based bands like frontier ruckus and failed flowers. listening to her solo music is like hanging out with the coolest girl in school who doesn’t care what anyone thinks: there’s just something about her that naturally exudes confidence. I absolutely loved speaking with anna—on one of her rare afternoons off from touring—about weird shows, being a bratty teenager, the nuances of jamming and the angel olsen show that inspired her to keep writing songs. (she’s about to head to the UK to play indietracks with girl ray as her backing band!)
intro & interview by kendall meade (of mascott, anders & kendall and red panda records fame, as well as a side lady in helium, spinanes and others) & photographs by gail o’hara
chickfactor: one of the reasons I was excited to talk to you is because I’m from detroit and it’s exciting to hear such great music coming out of my hometown. oh, nice. I actually didn’t grow up in detroit. I grew up on the west side of michigan, right in between detroit and chicago in saint joseph. I moved to detroit four years ago. cf: how do you like it? how do you like the indie music scene? I like it. it’s small. I’ve got some good friends. there’s a lot of buzz. there’s a lot of talent here but it’s still a pretty small scene, but it’s fun. cf: who are some of your favorite bands or favorite places to play? the magic stick? I’ve only played the magic stick once and it was a really weird show. the metro times put on this brunch thing and they paid us all to do it, so we did it, but no one was there to see us. so, everyone was kind of talking over it. cf: what are the local bands you love? I would say stef chura, she’s a good friend of mine. it’s funny though because all my favorite bands try not to play in detroit very much so it’s hard to catch them. but stef’s one of my favorites. bonny dune is really excellent. I really love deadbeat beat. there’s also this band don’tthat’s pretty new but they’re good. fred thomasis detroit adjacent. he’s in ann arbor now and he was in montreal for a minute but I think I can still safely call him detroit. cf: I wanted to talk a little bit about your lyrics if you’re comfortable with it. from your songs it sounds like these midwestern boys are a bunch of heartbreakers! is writing about that subject cathartic? can you talk more about it? yeah, for sure. it’s funny and [the record] definitely feels very time specific. there were just so many conditions that clicked with writing the record. like, you know, kind of refocusing on music, moving, collaborating, recording and then everything that comes with moving to a new scene that’s a smaller scene than you’re used to. and then the drama that I wasn’t really prepared for—small-town drama. It just felt really high school or something and my defenses really came up. it stirred up some old insecurities that I had from high school probably. that’s where a lot of the attitude comes from, if there’s any chip-on-the-shoulder attitude, it probably has something to do with that. like feeling kind of like the new girl and not knowing the ropes and making some missteps and trying to salvage my dignity. cf: that’s a really perfect way to put it because I sense a bit of a tough girl in there and it sounds like you were just kind of protecting yourself. definitely. I was trying. I was really trying. there was a lot of drama. cf: if there was any advice you could give your teenage self in saint joe, what would it be? man, teen me probably wouldn’t listen. I was such a brat. but I guess I would just tell me that no one’s, like, against you. I had this natural feeling that nobody likes you and I think a lot of teens probably feel that way. everyone’s just trying to get through. and it’s better to just find the people who will be nice and help you along and not to concern yourself with the people who just make you feel inadequate. cf: I totally agree. my niece is a teenager now, and I’m always like, “listen, just FYI, you don’t have to be friends with the drama queens.” I wish someone had told me that! absolutely. dude, I was friends with the crazy girls and I stopped being friends with them at such a fragile point. I stopped being friends with everybody when I was like a sophomore in high school and I was very alone for a minute. I had a best friend who I met in art classand she was great. we acted like we didn’t give a shit, but of course I still gave a shit. (laughs) cf: what are some of your favorite spots in detroit? I live in hamtramck now. it’s such a funny interesting place. two square miles and really densely populated, which is totally different than a lot of areas in detroit, so it is pretty walkable. I like going to yemen caféfor dinner late night. aladdin’s is probably my favorite. there’s just a lot of great middle-eastern food here. I’m not totally a vegetarian, but I like to eat mostly that way. there’s this little bar bumbo’s that I like. I like living in hamtramck. I used to live in corktown. I can’t afford corktown anymore. cf: you look very confident when you play live. is it because you’ve been a side lady for so long? yeah, for sure. being a side lady as you say is a role that I definitely got comfortable with but wasn’t initially comfortable. especially when I was just singing and not playing an instrument because I did that for a while. I had all these moves that I would do, like holding the mic stand in a specific way or hands on my hips or whatever. it was very sassy or something. once I started playing bass, it was really fun and I felt super comfortable and really confident just playing bass and singing. and, I mean, I did it for so long I got pretty used to it. but every different band has a different energy and there’s always an adjustment like, when I started doing solo stuff it was terrifying. playing shows by myself with my own songs for the first time was the most stressful, and I had some shows where I hated it. I would get off stage and I would be like, “this isn’t worth it. this isn’t fun.” I’m shaking I’m sweating like “this sucks.” but once I started playing with like a full band and—especially after the record started coming along—once we arranged it to a full band sound and I started playing with a band, it just became really fun and that’s where I’m at now. we’ve played a bunch at this point and we’re about to play a whole lot more. at this point every show is different. the energy is always different. but once you get up there and lock into the songs it’s just fun. so I feel like I’ve kind of beat the stage fright for now anyway. cf: are you self-taught or did you have any training on voice or instruments? when I was a kid, I took piano lessons. my mom’s a pianist and she also was the church children’s choir director. I took piano lessons and I was a total brat about it: didn’t want to practice, would cry at the bench. I wish I had been more of a serious student. in high school I picked up guitar and I would go to these lessons that was basically this amazingly cool middle-aged dude who just ran lessons out of his garage space. I would bring him CDs of music I liked and he’d just figure it out and then teach me. it wasn’t very theoretical it was just kind of like, let’s learn this weezer song today. I did take some voice lessons when I was in early high school. that’s something I should do again. I would really like to take some voice lessons mostly for breath control and being able to play as many shows as we do and learn how to save, save my voice. cf: you have excellent pitch. did you have any training from your mother? not a lot of formal training from her. we’d sit at the piano and sing duets together—disney songs or she had the sheet music to carole king’s tapestry. she would give me advice sometimes. my mom is pretty critical I think. but I did totally learn to harmonize from her because every song that comes on the radio she’s like, “gotta sing the third,” you know? cf: that’s adorable. that is one thing I learned from my mom. cf: how does it feel in the studio working on your own stuff versus recording for other bands? do you like the recording process? the record was mostly done with friends who are younger than me, kind of new and dabbling in the home recording world. it was a learning experience for everyone involved and the benefit of that was getting to spend a ton of time on arranging. I feel like we fine-tooth-combed all of the lead guitar parts and that was really, really fun. recording for other bands, I usually am just a pinch hitter. it’s kind of like, “okay, it’s your turn, go sing harmony vocals.” so this time I was way more invested in every little thing and that was super exciting. I only spent like a day and a half in a real studio. when I started working with collin dupuis, who wound up mixing the record, he came up to his detroit studio and we worked for a day and a half and it was very chill. I’ve been in studios where there’s way more stress and tension and competing ideas and all that stuff. but collin was just super-laid-back and we re-tracked like three of the songs mostly live and even used some scratch vocal takes so it was pretty painless. it felt great and I look forward to working in a studio environment again on a whole project. cf: what are your favorite snacks and drinks to have on hand when you record, when you’re in the studio? oh, man, I’m always stressing about my voice, so tea for sure. I’ve also tried different things like swallowing olive oil. I’m not sure if it helped. definitely tea, anything with caffeine, kombucha, coffee. I know coffee’s not great for your voice, but I don’t really like to drink alcohol while I’m recording. it’s fun when you’re demoing and arranging. but mood altering substances…I’m not interested in them when I’m recording. cf: I read an interview with fred thomas (from failed flowers, etc.) and he mentioned that you are not particularly into jamming. I relate to that because sometimes jamming can be very stressful. oh my god. I know. I thought it was hilarious that he used that anecdote but I was kind of like, “thanks dude.” (laughs) there are certain conditions in which it is fun. I recently was hanging out with my friends who are in this band called minihorse. they were working on their album and I sang some vocals on it. but then they had brought in our other friend to write a lead guitar part and we all wound up hanging out and I started noodling around on guitar and wrote this minuscule guitar line. I felt so proud of it and when they sent me their record I immediately went to that spot. I was like, “yay.” so it can be fun. the failed flowers thing for me, I kind of replaced someone in that band and I came to it when I was really busy working on my record. I would always have to drive to ann arbor to work with them and, yeah, it was kind of just like, “let me just learn new songs.” none of us really had the time or energy to do full on jamming sessions. just yesterday I started demoing out some stuff with my friend ben, who’s in minihorseand it was really fun. if it’s not clicking, it can feel kind of draining and a bummer. but once you hit a good thread it’s addicting. I wound up staying there until like three in the morning and I had not planned on it. cf: do you know that you and dylan both have songs called “belle isle”? they’re both about this kind of idealized love that you kind of have to leave behind. oh my god, that’s amazing. no one’s told me that. wow. cf: are you a fan of dylan at all? I am. It’s funny because I saw dylan play, when I was 14, with the dead and I was just like, “I don’t get it.” he’s like, you know, he’s very old and playing a keyboard and his voice is terrible. but then after that I really started digging in—context, time, it all matters. I was really into dylan in my early college years and especially when I first joined frontier ruckus. the songwriter was very obsessed with bob dylan so I kind of got sucked into that world through him and that band. blond on blond, blood on the tracks. dylan’s great. cf: you’re on heavenly in the UK and polyvinyl here in the states. do you see any differences between working with the label in the UK versus the states? have you met all of the UK label people yet? I did meet jeff from heavenly at sxsw and it was such a pleasure. I got to hang out with him after a solo set I played and we sat up on the balcony and drank beer and talked for a long time. he’s really funny, really charming and I just was not paying attention to the time or my phone when I was hanging out with him. I can tell the way he talked about the label that everyone’s like really excited and the label is the best it’s ever been. so for a label and jeff having such a long career, that’s really cool to hear that everyone’s really engaged and excited. so, yeah, I’m excited about heavenly. the heavenly thing happened through polyvinyl and it happened really quickly. they were kind of just like, “oh, they want to pick up the album for, you know, overseas.” and I was just like, “oh, okay. cool.” I was told they were great and I did a little bit of research and it just kind of happened. it was great actually meeting jeff and I’m looking forward to meeting everyone else. there’s definitely a huge difference in interacting with the polyvinyl crew versus heavenly. I get a lot of emails from polyvinyl. so, it’s a lot of emailing, but they’re really great. I got to hang with them down at sxsw too. and every time I’m in new york, they treat me really well. cf: chickfactor is primarily about female musicians. could you name a few that have influenced you or that you just like? from a young age I loved diana ross and carole king. I still love carole king. that’s probably the longest standing musical inspiration for sure. in recent years, I’ve been really inspired by angel olsen. I was living in chicago and wasn’t really doing anything with music and then I saw her play a little solo set at this like community center in logan square and I was just super blown away. I hadn’t seen a lot of women singer-songwriters. when I was in frontier ruckus, most of the bands we played with and toured with were all dudes and I played with all dudes, so seeing her play was really inspiring and after I saw her got my guitar out again. it influenced me to want to start writing my own stuff. alvvays is a band that came through detroit when I was in the very early stages or writing. they played at the UFO factory and I think I was there by myself. I was a little bit stoned and I watched them play. I was really sad, I remember, at the time. I watched them play and it made me cry. I was just like, “oh my god. this is so good.” her voice is so pure and the music’s so poppy and beautiful and it was just so unexpected. I hadn’t heard of them before and I just went because I needed to get out of the house so I was like, “oh I’ll check out this show.” it was described as canadian dream pop on the facebook event, so I just went and I was super blown away by them. cate le bon also is someone that I’m just completely enamored with. she just oozes confidence onstage, it’s so amazing to watch her play. I opened up for her project with tim presley in chicago, and she was really, really sweet and I was so nervous. I just felt like, man, I really want to be cool and talk to you but I’m just like, yeah, I’m fangirling. I saw her play a couple times after that and she remembered me but I just felt, like, so embarrassed. but yeah, I loved her. she was so incredible. her guitar playing is insane, just the most counterintuitive parts. and she carries the melody. it’s just amazing to watch. she’s so good. cf: do you have any other musical crushes? I just came back from south by southwest and I thought it was gonna be really stressful but it was actually really inspiring to see a bunch of bands that I had been listening to. I got to see and play with this australian band called hatchie and I’m obsessed with them. they’re so good, they kind of have a cranberries vibe. I got to see girl ray, this awesome band from the UK. their parents must have done them well. you can tell like they listened to really good music growing up, they’re so talented. those were my two big band crushes from south by. cf: thank you so much, anna!
chickfactor 18, a new limited-edition print issue of the fanzine featuring big, fun interviews with: KENDRA SMITH (OPAL, RAINY DAY, DREAM SYNDICATE, ETC)
LINDY MORRISON & AMANDA BROWN (THE GO-BETWEENS, CLEOPATRA WONG)
FRANCES MCKEE (THE VASELINES)
GERARD LOVE (TEENAGE FANCLUB, LIGHTSHIPS)
+ A JUKEBOX JURY WITH JOANNA BOLME (JICKS), REBECCA COLE (MINDERS) & KATHY FOSTER (THERMALS)
+ OUR USUAL POLLS
+ MANY BOOK, FILM, LIVE & RECORD REVIEWS
+ LOTS OF ORIGINAL PHOTOGRAPHY & ILLUSTRATION
chickfactor 18 was edited by gail o’hara, who cofounded cf with pam berry in 1992 (yes, belle & sebastian wrote a song about it). graphic design was beautifully done by jen sbragia (from the softies & all girl summer fun band). we couldn’t decide on two cover stars so we have made two covers—one in royal navy & one in espresso!
our amazing writers and contributors for CF18 are: photographers gail o’hara, laura levine, bret lunsford, curt doughty & a host of others; illustrators rachel blumberg and jen sbragia; interviewers include o’hara, lois maffeo, pete paphides, and blumberg; writers include kevin alvir, joe brooker, mark butler, wayne davidson, bryce edwards, gaylord fields, daniel handler (a.k.a. lemony snicket), alice hubley, kendall jane meade, peter momtchiloff, thomas mosher, piotr orlov, chris phillips, sukhdev sandhu, dan searing, lydia vanderloo, doug wallen & michael white.