Brooklyn’s PEP manifested itself seemingly haphazardly as the recent love affair Karys Rhea had with girl groups of the 1950s and 1960s… on her free moments from handling drums for garage rockers Starlight Girls. However, she’s since embraced the aesthetic of the era almost entirely, now fully-embodying the sexiest singin’est pin-up of the time, whom could teach every girl you know a thing or two about being a “lady,” but who could also likely take you out… in heels. She’s also taken to writing song with titles like “I Met a Boy” and “Be That Girl” and completed the aesthetic with a recent music video for her latest single “Stephen,” (which you can see below) which is inspired in equal parts by teenage exploitation films and nuclear family-friendly variety shows of yesteryear. Earlier this week she released her debut EP, My Baby and Me. Although there are no live dates immediately in the works and she’s still working on getting the band’s next release made, Karys recently took some time to chat with me and clarified that there is a reasonable chance we’ll see her in the near future and that we’ll certainly hear from PEP again soon.
Izzy Cihak: So, first off, I understand you were currently nursing a broken foot. How did that happen? I recently messed up my ankle pretty severely, so I can kind of feel your pain… literally (laughs).
Karys Rhea: Oh man. I was hopping around my living room on one foot because it was asleep and I was trying to knock some life into it. And then I tripped on my other foot and broke it. It’s a pretty pathetic story, actually.
Izzy: And PEP is still a relatively new project. What do you feel is most important to know about PEP?
Karys: I think the answer to your question is in the question. It’s important that people know PEP is a work in progress. We’re all growing and learning and experimenting with different sounds and styles, and I would love for people to keep in mind that I’m still getting comfortable as a front-woman and that we’ve only played a handful of shows so far. I think we have a lot of potential and we’re going to keep at it until we are the tightest live band we can possibly be.
Izzy: This project has you exploring the sounds of ‘50s and ‘60s girl groups. How do you feel like this compares to your work in Starlight Girls and, for that matter, what would you tell fans of the band to convince them to give PEP a spin? The two projects seem to share an equal plethora of both similarities and differences… if that makes sense.
Karys: You’re right; both bands have a distinctly retro feel to them. I think the Starlight Girls sound is about 5-10 years later than PEP’s sound, since SG incorporates psychedelic and darker tones into the music. Generally, SG songs are minor, and PEP songs are major. So if you’re more into the easily accessible, happy-go-lucky, doo-wop summer songs, I would say PEP is the perfect band for you. I think SG is more cerebral and mysterious, which is equally as intriguing, but for a different kind of mood.
Izzy: You have a great sense of fashion and, while it’s an obvious nod to certain periods, I’m curious who are your particular most significant style icons.
Karys: Why thank you. Truth-be-told though, I know next to nothing about fashion. I only started exploring styles from the late 50s-early 60s when I had to brainstorm ideas for album art/ photo shoots/outfits for live shows, etc. So to answer your question, I don’t really have any style icons. I could talk your ear off about music, but when it comes to fashion, I imagine my back-up singers would have more to say on that topic.
Izzy: I understand you plan to play NYC quite a bit in 2014. What can be expected of the live experience?
Karys: The live performance is very important to us, so we spend most of our time working out harmonies, transitions, etc. We also take pride in our appearance and we have choreographed dance moves to every song, so there’s a strong visual component to the show. Don’t expect to stand around awkwardly nodding your head. We make it a point to get the audience dancing and feeling good. All in all, going to see PEP live is a lot of fun.
Izzy: What are your most significant plans for PEP in 2014? Any chance of any kind of a tour, or at least a possible Philly date?
Karys: We’re currently brainstorming ideas for a Kickstarter video, so that we can fundraise for our first full-length album. Our plan for 2014 is to play more shows and put out an LP! So far there’s nothing in the works for PEP in terms of touring, but I’ll never say no to a good offer! If we do wind up touring, Philly will be first on the list. My best friend is from Philly and we go there often, and every time Starlight Girls have played there it’s been a blast.