“A fully egalitarian band”: A Brief[ish] History of Arguably Brooklyn’s Greatest Group, ADVAETA

It makes me frowny that more people aren’t talking about ADVAETA… because they fucking RULE… The Brooklyn trio is comprised (in equal measures, a very important point) of Lani...

It makes me frowny that more people aren’t talking about ADVAETA… because they fucking RULE… The Brooklyn trio is comprised (in equal measures, a very important point) of Lani Combier-Kapel, Amanda Salane, and Sara Fantry.  Last month they released Death and the Internet on Fire Talk Records.   The LP blends psychedelic sludge with beautiful ‘90s alt rockingness and a postmodernly playful post-punk morbidity, with a bit of riot grrrl and stoner rock thrown in there… Upon you’re first listen it’s nearly impossible to cite an era, but who fucking cares?  Just be glad that they happen to exist in ours.  They have upcoming shows in Brooklyn’s Shea Stadium on June 8th, Baby’s All Right on June 23rd, and Aviv on July 9th, and will be partaking in the Hopscotch Music Festival this September in Raleigh, NC. I recently got a chance to chat with all three ladies of ADVAETA, who, well, pretty much gave me an equally enjoyable, amusing, and unabridged history of the band…

Izzy: So there’s not a lot of info available on ADVAETA, even to us “critics.”  How is it that you came together for this project and what did you have in mind when you first began collaborating?

Sara: We met when we were zero years old and 100 years ago to this day we decided to start a band together. (Happy anniversary, guys.) We wanted to have a fully egalitarian band in which we could all feel welcome to express ourselves and incorporate all of the musical elements that inspired us. We all appreciate a variety of genres so I guess it took a while to find our collective, unique sound. And although we were familiar with our instruments, they hadn’t yet become an extension of ourselves in the way they often become for seasoned performers. We felt comfortable with a good, long gestation period rather than prematurely birthing a sound that didn’t feel quite right. And I’m glad we did it because after all these years I’m creating with two girls that I couldn’t respect and adore more. We’re a family.

Lani: We grew up together in NYC! Sara and I went to high school together and we both sported pink hair (as well as other colors).  I used Special Effects dye but I think she may have used Manic Panic because it didn’t seem as hot pink. I swore by Special Effects, I thought it was the richest dye and lasted the longest. This one day I came to school after dying my hair purple and had accidentally colored my whole body purple by mistake… but Sara and I were still friends even though I looked like a purple freak. Though I guess we were both freaks at around that time…

Amanda and Sara knew each other somehow and had been jamming together for a month or so. They needed a drummer and I had been playing for a few years at this point. Truthfully, I kinda sucked but it was alright, because we all kinda sucked at first. We just really wanted to create and explore creating as much as possible – our persistence kept us together. Looking back at the experience, it was almost like being in band school… and maybe this record release is like the graduation? Stop me if I’m getting too deep…

Izzy: Is there anything that you think is especially important for fans and potential fans to know about your process of collaborating?

Amanda:  Everything is egalitarian and intuition based. We tune into each other – almost psychically, definitely emotionally, and feed off of each other during the song writing process. It’s sort of like having sex in a way.

Sara: I think it’s super important for people to know we are fully collaborative and play equal roles in the writing and performing of our songs. I suppose it’s easier to digest any situation in which roles are clearly defined, and often in bands there’s a designated leader of the project, a singer, a lead guitarist, and the drummer is somewhere in the back, totally overlooked. And we don’t want any of us to feel overlooked, outshined, or underappreciated. Competition is an especially huge issue for women among other women, so we try to actively combat that by singing equally at every set and in released material, and always hearing out one another’s concerns and needs.

Lani:  We spend an enormous amount of time trying to make sure that all collaboration is done equally. There is no lead vocalist, except in certain songs, and we like to keep it that way. It seems that some journalists (and audience members!) have trouble with this, always trying to pin point certain lead singers – and I’m always like – did you watch us play? There’s not one person that’s had more lead singing than any of the others.

On our record, we have three songs that all three of us sing equally on, “Angelfish,” “Newo,” and “RIP,” and then each of us sing lead on two songs. Sara sings “Church Cult” and “Divide,” Amanda sings “Your New Life In Pictures” and “Gold Thought Exit,” and I sing “Hazel Blue Eyes” and “Come With Me.”

Izzy: You spent March playing a number of live shows.  Were there any particular highlights?  Any performances that you especially enjoyed or cities that you especially enjoyed getting to see?

Lani: I love Austin, TX. And yes SXSW is a shitshow and can suck your life existence but our shows there were rad. We played a BBQ early in the day at our friend’s house with bands like Shellshag, Beech Creeps, Natural Child, RUNNING, and more. Then we played a show later in the night with both Beech Creeps and RUNNING again, PLUS Spray Paint and other awesome bands.

I also loved playing Raleigh at Slims- Pie Face Girls are our spirit band. Chicago (Queen Mary’s Lighthouse!), Detroit (Seraphine Collective/ Real Ghosts & Linda Ann Jordan!), Nashville (Pussy Palace/ Idle Bloom!), and Baltimore (The Crown/ Natural Velvet!) were also highlights! DUDE MaCRock and Harrisonburg, VA is a magical place. I dunno, we just had a lot of great ones this round…

Sara: Honestly, we had such a great tour, every night was awesome. Some particularly great bands/great nights were: Detroit, MI for the Seraphine collective (focused on promoting females in music and art) with Real Ghosts, River Spirit, Diskette; the show at Pussy Palace in Nashville, TN with Idle Bloom and Wildfront; the shows at SXSW we played with Running, Spray Paint, Beech Creeps, HSY, Crosss; the show in Raleigh, NC with Less Western and Pie Face Girls (my personal messiah band); and the show in Baltimore with Natural Velvet, Lavender Tone, and Daikondaikon – totally worth playing even with our car getting broken into.

Amanda: I always enjoy going to New Orleans. It’s one of those places that sucks you in and if it likes you it never lets go. Truly beautiful, wild place that’s home to some very deep and unique souls.

Izzy: And I see you have a handful of June dates lined up.  What can be expected of ADVAETA live?

Amanda:  An exceptional amount of noise and heightened sensation. Hopefully some sort of hypnosis – we like to lose ourselves in the experience and hope that others are able to as well.

Lani: I can only recall one June date right now [laughs]. BUT live, I’m super sweaty and red in the face… usually have my eyes closed or half closed while I’m trying to tune in with Amanda and Sara’s guitars. The kick drum is going nonstop, because I can’t stop. Sara’s hair is flying around as her guitar makes crazy noises while Amanda is smashing and pulsing her guitar. When you see us play, we’re in pure nirvana… and afterwards there’s lipstick smeared all over the three microphones.

Sara: Spitting fire, releasing doves into the sky, eating entire bars of soap, you know, the usual band crap.

Izzy: You recently released your Death and the Internet LP, which probably has my favorite album title of the year.  I feel like you wear your musical influences on your sleeve (In addition to Amanda’s wonderful “All-Female Is Not a Genre,” blog entry, which sort of outlines many of the noisemakers the band appreciates… regardless of what they’re sporting “below the belt.”)  But what were the biggest non-musical influences behind the album?

Lani: I’m glad you like the title of the album! My parents don’t get it… [laughs]. This album is all feeling and emotion, raveled up and cryptic, while also being a huge release for us. Many of these songs were written during intense breakups, or even a while afterwards, reflecting on them and ourselves. These songs are therapeutic, allowing us to bring issues and feelings to the surface and thereafter solving and healing from them. Essentially, the inspiration for me comes from needing to be healed, if that makes any sense.

Other inspirations in my life come from jerks saying that this band would never go anywhere. A while ago, someone tried to get me to play in and be excited about their band by assuring me that ADVAETA would never go anywhere anyway. Thanks to them, I’m still pushing on to prove them wrong. It’s the struggles in life that push you harder.

Plus, I want to write beats like Stephen Morris from Joy Division.

Amanda:  Biggest non-musical influences were actually death and the internet – more specifically loss. Maybe loss in general. Loss of loved ones, understanding death within that. Death of the self, death of relationships, death and mortality in the world – as a force of existence. The internet being more of a generational influence. Living in the internet-based world and having it affect your life events, plus having it act as a mirror for digging deeper into your own mind.

Sara: I have deeply emotional reactions to music and art, but I suppose at the center of it all, my main influence for creating is feeling. All the emotions that art serves as a channel to express, release, and make joyful. I find creating music to be an experience of utter catharsis. Also full cred to all the women I grew up witnessing kicking down barriers with middle fingers to the sky, my mother included (all of us have super strong, incredible mothers). If I hadn’t seen them doing it, I probably would have had a harder time feeling confidently that as the center of my own experience and my most trustworthy assessor of the world I’m in, my feelings are as legitimate as everyone else’s, I am equal to every gender,  every phenotype, every age – and just as capable of accomplishing whatever I put my efforts into.

Izzy: Do you, personally, have a favorite album track, whether one you’re most proud of or just one that’s especially fun to play live?  I love the record, but “Gold Thought Exit” really stands out for me.  It reminds me of Sleater-Kinney at their grimiest, coupled with anthemic psych rock and the kind of alt rock that might be found on the second stage of Lollapalooza in the early-mid ‘90s (Hopefully that’s not insulting.)

Amanda: I don’t take any of that as an insult – thank you. “Gold Thought Exit” is probably one that I’m most proud of. The lyrics mean a lot to me. I honestly couldn’t choose though, they all stand on their own and are meaningful in different ways. They are time capsules, little emotional capsules.

Sara: Oh I like all of them for different reasons. “Divide” feels real personal for me. I had a really rough break up and what never got worked out between us I worked out lyrically I guess. Playing some of that guitar line feels like ripping myself open, every time.

Lani: [laughs] Well I love Sleater-Kinney (The Woods is a great album!!!) and actually don’t find anything wrong with being compared to anything ’90s! We’re ’90s kids, so screw all ya’ll haters.

“Hazel/Blue Eyes” has the most meaning to me personally just because it was the first song I ever wrote and recorded – but it’s not the most fun to play live.

I’d say “Divide” and “Angelfish” are my two favorite to play… “Come With Me” is fun as well.

Izzy: Finally, what are ADVAETA’s plans and hopes for the remainder of 2015?  Any chance we might get to see you here in Philly, or Philthy, in the near future?

Lani: We have to figure that out! I know we’ll be touring in the fall and likely some parts of the summer. And hell yeah, we love Philly!!! We opened for No Joy at Kung Fu Necktie last year and now I can die happily. We’ll be back.

Sara: We just want to play and write some more songs, get another album rolling, meet more people, see more good music. Tour the west, Canada, some overseas stuff could be cool! YES, WE WILL DEFINITELY MAKE IT TO PHILLY! WE LOVE PHILLY!!!!


Band InterviewsMusic

During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.