NYC’s Dead Leaf Echo don’t exactly sound of their time… not that that’s a bad thing… They sound more like they should be sandwiched between Ride and The Jesus & Mary Chain on the soundtrack to one of Gregg Araki’s Teenage Apocalypse films… They are an amalgamation of the 80s most impressive (and depressing) movements, from dream pop and shoegaze to ethereal wave… with a little extra aggression… they refer to it as “Nouveau Wave.” Dead Leaf Echo has been in existence since 2006, but just released their first LP, Thought & Language, last month. The album tells the tale of a single individual from his conception until his realization of his own consciousness. The album was recorded by legendary producer John Fryer, known for his work with the likes of Depeche Mode, Peter Murphy, and Swans. I recently got a chance to chat with DLE mastermind LG, along with keyboard/vocalist Ana B. about their first full-length, what it was like to work with a legend, and what are their plans for the rest of the year.
Izzy Cihak: So this project has been around for around six or seven years now, despite your first full-length dropping last month. How would you compare Dead Leaf Echo in 2006 to Dead Leaf Echo in 2013?
LG: It’s not the same project at all. The only resemblance is the name. In 2007 it was Super-8 videos by day and 3-piece punk rock at night. The first EP, Pale Fire, finally surfaced in 2008. That’s when the project really began. We did another EP and a couple 7″’s and then, in 2010, started working on Thought & Language. It took quite some time, but we were touring a lot over the past two+ years and doing studio time in-between work and tour.
Ana B.: When I originally joined I just played guitar. Over time I picked up vocals and keys and we started working on Thought & Language. Although LG really writes the core of the songs, for the first time I got to come up with vocal harmonies, guitar, and keys that worked with his parts. I think touring has been such a great experience for us. We wrote and recorded the songs first and then they evolved as we played them live, which made them better. I think the band is tighter than ever and that we all really get what each other is trying to do.
Izzy Cihak: What were the biggest influences and inspirations behind Thought &Language, whether musical or non-musical? Obviously, you’re quite influenced by literature.
LG: This LP’s theme is centered around psychology influences by literature, Specifically Lev Vygotsky and the development of a child forming its first thoughts and learning language. Musically, I think we’re all amped up on Creation Records at the moment. Coming off reading The Creation Records Story: My Magpie Eyes Are Hungry for the Prize and watching Upside Down on the last tour. Now we’re seeing their three biggest bands (sans Oasis) put out records this Spring: MBV, House of Love, Primal Scream. Now, quality aside, it’s the spirit that lives on and that’s what’s most important to keeping this whole thing alive.
Izzy Cihak: Do you feel like there’s one song on the album which best captures your current musical state of mind? “Memorytraces” and “Flowerspeak” are probably my favorites.
LG: Yes, “Memorytraces” could be indicative of where we’re headed, musically, in the future.
Izzy Cihak: Since the album was produced by such a legendary producer, in John Fryer, I have to ask if you have any favorite albums of his.
LG: This Mortal Coil’s It’ll End in Tears takes the cake. That’s the one where he was very involved with all aspects of the album. Second Cocteau Twins’ LP and early Lush EP’s are also near perfection for me.
Izzy Cihak: How was working with him? Do you feel like he had a new take on your sound, or added something particularly significant to it?
LG: He does great mixes. That’s what he brought to the table. Just logistically it was a bit hard with him being in Europe… He coming to Brooklyn, then I flying to Oslo.
Izzy Cihak: How would you characterize Dead Leaf Echo’s live experience?
LG: A blistering live show, accompanied by searing visuals from our film catalog. If you’re in the audience and attending one of our shows, you’re going to need earplugs, as it’s music taken to the maximum volume, but maintaining its melodic core.
Izzy Cihak: What are your plans for the rest of 2013?
LG: Make it to the West Coast. Our LA debut is at The Echoplex on 4/21, with The Telescopes and Beach Fossils for Part Time Punks. We tour through Cali and the desert for a week, culminating in the 20th anniversary of the Beautiful Noise Festival out in Phoenix, Arizona on 4/27. This festival started 20 years ago in the desert by Captured Tracks band Half-String and, in the past, has brought out Apples in Stereo and For Against. I Think this music will have a real audience out there and possibly find a new, undiscovered West Coast audience.