In nearly every piece of press they’ve received, September Girls’ sound has been characterized as “noise pop,” in addition to a seemingly obligatory, “Jesus & Mary Chain, but with_____.” Comparisons to The Cure and MBV have also been aplenty. However, their latest EP (the follow-up to the band’s debut, LP, Cursing the Sea, which was released this January), Veneer, which is out this Monday, November, 24th, on Kanine Records, the Dublin quintet sound a lot more like some of the greatest heroine’s of early-mid-90s Lollalpalooza. While the band’s aesthetic is still awash with the fuzz of shoegaze and amidst the morose sonic echoes of post-punk, the four songs on Veneer take on an attitude a little more sassy and confrontational, while also adding a somewhat subversive sugar coating, resembling exceptionally palatable anthems for those intellectual aliens that find themselves inhabiting those dance floors on the fringes of society. I recently got a chance to chat with vocalist/guitarist Caoimhe Derwin and drummer Sarah Grimes about how September Girls have been spending their 2014.
Izzy: Since you’re a relatively new band, I have to ask: What have been the highlights of September Girls, so far?
Caoimhe: I think playing our album launch gig in Dublin back in January was one of my highlights. We sold out the venue and it was really great to have all our friends and family there. There have been so many though. Bobby Gillespie tweeting about us was pretty cool, too. It’s very, very nice when musical heroes take notice of your band.
Izzy: Have you had any particular favorite reactions or characterizations of your sounds?
Caoimhe: My friend Brian listened to our new EP, and told me we sounded like “lovely ghosts”…that cracked me up.
Izzy: Your sounds remind me of something Justine Frischmann or Shirley Manson would do in their most sonically radical moments… Hopefully that’s not insulting…
Caoimhe: That’s pretty flattering; actually. They’re both very cool women who have important things to say.
Izzy: And do you think there’s anything that’s especially important for potential fans to know about you or your process as artists?
Sarah: We have different approaches to song writing. For example, Caoimhe might email us a recording of an idea for a song, like a verse and chorus with a guitar line, we all have a listen, then at practice we collaborate together to put a structure on it, and finish it; sometimes a song could go through several life spans before we get to the place where we are happy to call it a song. Other songs happen a bit more naturally between us all. “Black Oil” from the EP just came from myself and Paula just messing around, playing a simple drum beat and a bass line, which then developed into a finished song pretty easily. Then you get the songs where you hit a wall and have to leave it on the back burner for a while until something clicks and you have a breakthrough!
Izzy: You’re about to release a new EP. How do you feel as though the release compares to your debut LP, Cursing the Sea, and previous singles, both in terms of sound and the process of writing and recording it?
Caoimhe: We have more direction as writers — we have always been collaborative when writing together but I think it’s become more prevalent. And we approached recording this time with more confidence and energy. That made a huge difference.
Izzy: What would you currently consider to be your most significant influences?
Sarah: As five individuals I think we are all influenced differently from various places. I guess when we are song writing the direction of the song can be related to what’s going on in our personal lives/something we have heard/watched/read/educated ourselves on, so it’s hard to pinpoint specific influences across five varying tastes.
Izzy: Not to detract from your music but, you all have a really great (and collectively great) fashion sense. What does the sartorial side of September Girls draw inspiration from… if that’s even something you think about?
Caoimhe: We don’t ever want our image to be more important than the music, but it is an extension of our music, just as our artwork is. I’m always hesitant to talk about what we wear — it can be a bit of a cliché because we’re an all female band. Sometimes we think about it, and sometimes we don’t.
Izzy: You recently signed to Kanine Records, one of my favorite labels. What are your thoughts on the label? Any particular favorite labelmates? Beach Day are my favorite people in music and I’m also a massive fan of Chairlift and Flowers (Beverly, Braids, and Fear of Men are also quite amazing.)
Caoimhe: It’s a great label to be on — so many good bands. We recently played with Beverly at a Kanine party at CMJ and they were so good! I’m really digging their album too. Gorgeous harmonies.
Izzy: You’re based out of Dublin, so I’m curious: How is the music scene there, especially in relation to bands doing things like yourselves?
Sarah: At the moment Dublin has a vibrant music scene. Every second person you know is in a band so there are plenty of opportunities for gigs and collaborations. Everyone is very encouraging and supportive of one another.
Izzy: 2014 is nearly over, so I’ve been asking bands what their favorite musical aspects of the year have been. Have there been any records to drop or performances that you’ve seen that you found to be particularly interesting or inspiring?
Sarah: To be honest, I’ve been so caught up in playing music this year, alongside having a full-time day job, that I haven’t really had the time to explore new music. One album that I’ve had on repeat since its release is From The Heights Of A Dream by Deaf Joe. He’s from my hometown of Waterford in the South of Ireland and is currently based in Edinburgh. The opening track, “For Each And Every One Of Them,” is probably one of my favourite songs of the year. It’s kind of dark, electronic folk with really strong lyrics and music that builds and takes me to this kind of uneasy place. It’s actually quite difficult for me to describe where exactly it takes me and I think that in itself is my idea of really great and inspiring songwriting (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Dcbt1Crzz4). We have been really lucky this year to have been able to play some great festivals and gigs alongside some amazing bands. Seeing Bo Ningen perform at CMJ and Fat White Family at The Great Escape have been some of the highlights. I saw The National play at Primavera Sound and it was incredible; Bryan Devendorf is one of my favourite drummers the whole way through. I was thinking “Fuck, I want to play my drums this minute.” Any gig that makes me feel like that is a good gig!
Izzy: And what are you most significantly hoping and planning for 2015? Any chance of a full-scale US tour?
Sarah: We would love to get back to the US for a proper tour! Playing SXSW and CMJ was amazing but it would be really great to tour around a bit on our own or with another band or something. I think it’s something we will definitely try for, so fingers crossed! We’ve started writing songs for what will hopefully become our second album, so that will be our priority next year, in-between gigging and working… getting the second album finished and recorded.