Interview: TV Girl
Published on October 9th, 2011 | Jonny Abrams
San Diego ‘outfit’ TV Girl have tickled Rocksucker pink of late with their two EPs and recent single “Girls Like Me”, all of which exhibit their flair for giving postmodernism a good name by cosseting early-60s love-pop melodies in warm electro-funkiness. Trying to describe the sound of any non-boring band can be a perilous task – no one has died, but many have been labeled as pretentious – so just try to think of a rough amalgamation of Beck, Animal Collective and J Dilla’s Donuts album.
At the very least, this should give you an idea of how colourful TV Girl’s sound is, and if you’re a regular reader of Rocksucker (we can but hope) then you might have noticed that we tend to award brownie points for acute catering to synaesthesia. We fired over some questions to Brad Petering, one half of TV Girl along with front man Trung Ngo, to which he responded with a set of answers that positions him as a clear frontrunner in the race to be Rocksucker’s Sarkiest Interviewee of the Year…
Congratulations on your wonderful releases thus far. When can we expect a full-length album? Are you still set on the ‘mixtape’ idea (as mentioned here) and, if so, will the songs from your EPs feature on it?
Thank you, Rocksucker. Opening the interview with a compliment. Classic. To answer your question, yes we will be doing a mixtape, but only in the sense that it will be given away for free. It’ll be as thought out as an album. Maybe more thought out. We have all these sample songs that we can’t release legally, so we’re gonna go all out with it and make it a sample-delic masterpiece in the vein of Paul’s Boutique or 3 Feet High and Rising, or at least as best as we can with a recording budget of exactly zero dollars. It’ll be something ambitious that will gain a cult following that will allow us to headline festivals when we need the money twenty years from now after we break up and reunite.
Was that too many questions in one go to begin with? Sorry about that.
It was way too many questions. Very unprofessional. I hope you recover with the next question…
How did you guys come together? Can you tell us a bit about what you each do in the band?
Nice recovery. We started making music together because what else are you gonna do with your free time? Honestly. I guess you could surf YouTube all day, but we’re “artists” and need to express ourselves because there isn’t enough music in the world already.
Your sound, which is kind of a multi-coloured pop-hop (at least to us), seems like an obvious recipe for success if done right but there doesn’t seem to be that much of it about – perhaps because it is so hard to get right. Did you identify a gap in the market, or was it just the natural direction to take for two people of your respective talents?
Multi-colored huh? Are you saying that because Trung is Asian? To answer your question, yes. Me and Trung generally like to make ambient drone music, however, we noticed that there was a distinct lack of multi-colored pop-hop, so like the shrewd business people we are, we decided to fill that niche and make a lot of money that will fund our real passion which is, again, hour long ambient drone soundscapes.
Is it a conscious decision to keep your songs short, or do they just turn out that way?
It happens by accident. The way we work is we brew a hallucinogenic, psychoactive tea made from cactus leaves, then we drink it and wander into the desert with nothing but microphones and our computers. When we regain consciousness, we have about fifty-to-sixty multi-colored pop-hop songs which just happen to be about two-to-three minutes long.
Stuff like “Baby You Were There” and “Your Own Religion” sound, at least melody-wise, like the kind of early sixties classics that The Beatles might have covered on their first couple of albums. They just sound so strangely familiar. Do you ever wonder if you’re subconsciously regurgitating something you might have heard years ago?
Again, due to the unusual method of our song writing (see above question), we are usually too zonked out on psychedelic cactus tea to know whether what we do takes place in the conscious, or subconscious realm of the mind. Then again, I heard that John Lennon and Paul McCartney would also write their songs under the influence of cactus-drug tea so maybe both groups are merely tapping into the collective spiritual ether of pop, or pop-hop, as the case may be.
Come to think of it, we can detect a bit of Go! Team in there. Are they an influence? And how about Beck, if that’s not too obvious a reference point?
Have you been reading The Guardian lately?
Is “If You Want It (You Got It)” based on a true story?
Yes. We bought the rights to the story from Tucker Max.
What made you want to pay homage to “Benny and the Jets”? (Aside from the fact that it’s clearly Elton John’s best song…)
I prefer “Crocodile Rock”
In this interview, you stated that “most people in the music industry are not too bright”. Although we suspect that this is indeed the case, would you care to elucidate anyway?
An interview within an interview!?! Is that legal? Most people in general aren’t that bright, we can all agree on that, right? So it only makes sense that that percentage would carry into every industry: music, industrial cleaning supplies, insurance, etc. Music has it extra bad with the added ingredients of ego and desperation.
How’s LA? Have you got the new backing band up to speed yet? What’s the lineup?
I like LA. I live right on Santa Monica Blvd. I mean right on it, where people from the sidewalk can knock on my window. Our backing band is coming together. We still need a cute girl to play synth. Any cute girls who can sing backup and play synth and want to tour with TV Girl please contact email@example.com
Any plans to visit the UK at some point? I could see people here really taking to your stuff.
I don’t know. It sounds expensive. I don’t think we’re big enough yet. But that might change. We’ve been in talks with Zach Braff to be featured in Garden State 2 where it’s ten year later and Natalie Portman’s character tells Zach Braff that our new single “Girls Like Me” will change his life.
Are there any other up-and-coming artists that you’d like to recommend or give a shout-out to?
Finally, if I asked you right now to name your top three albums of all time, just off the top of your head, which ones would you pick?
The Fiery Furnaces – Blueberry Boat, Beastie Boys – Paul’s Boutique, and The Magnetic Fields – Holiday.
TV Girl, thank you!
And thank you Rocksucker!