In case you missed it, we premiered a really rad EP earlier this month, from Brooklyn’s Scam Avenue. But we felt you deserved more, and are hereby declaring the dark electro-pop trio our Artist of the Month. As most miracles happen in New York, they met through Craig’s List. The rest is well, history unfolding, as they’ve only just begun. Scam Avenue is Devery Doleman, Tara Chacón, and Lawrence Kim. They dress in black and reprogram your brain with the intelligence of Star Trek and the compassion of Brian Wilson. I chatted with Devery and Lawrence about Roberta’s Pizza, synaesthesia, and the power of projections. (In live shows, not like when when you convince yourself it’s your cat that really misses your ex-boyfriend.) Check out the interview below.
AF: Do you have any favorite memories from recording the EP?
Lawrence: I ate a lot of Roberta’s pizza. Also it was a real pleasure collaborating with Pete Cafarella, who engineered the EP. Super-talented and a lovely guy to boot.
Devery: My happiest memories are of hanging out in the studio with Pete and Lawrence laughing until I literally cried. Also: I have really intense synaesthesia and primarily communicate about music synaesthetically – and Pete and Lawrence would understand when I‘d give feedback in visual terms – like “the floor needs to collapse here” or “this is where it should jump into hyperspace.”
AF: What does it mean “Scam Avenue?” – and is it a street in Brooklyn? ;)
L: “Scam Avenue” is a nickname of a street in Brooklyn where a lot of weird stuff goes down. It’s kind of a black hole of strangeness.
AF: In your live shows you collaborate with the same guys who helped with “Mercury” video, will you tell me about that relationship?
D: I rely on the projector as an anchor/point of focus when we play live, so the projections are like a 4th band member to me. It’s like a conversation with the projector. The work EyeBodega did for us is gorgeous, I’m incredibly grateful for what they do.
L: We wanted to find a way to make our live show more of an overall experience. Like what Pink Floyd does live. I kind of can’t stand it when a band just gets up there on stage and hunches over their synths or whatever and there’s nothing else going on. You might as well just stay home and listen to the record. I had seen some stuff that EyeBodega had done and I really liked it so I reached out to them and asked if they would be down to collaborate. So they handle the visual side of our shows and (as mentioned above) they also provided the animations that are in the “Mercury” video.
AF: What’s your favorite Brooklyn venue?
D: Cameo Gallery, Union Pool (especially the sound woman at Union Pool who is amazing) and I love playing Grand Victory – Scenic NYC has been great to work with, really supportive of us. I love seeing bands at Baby’s All Right and hope to play there soon.
AF: Do you all dress in black on purpose, or is that just your individual style?
D: What I’m wearing in that band photo is pretty much what I wear 70% of the time — there has always been a lot of black in my closet.
L: We wear black because it reflects the darkness in our souls. That was a joke. I actually don’t wear a lot of black personally. We just decided to wear black for that photo shoot because we thought it would look good in black and white.
AF: Who are your style muses?
D: Debbie Harry, since forever. (We have the same birthday.) I like her raw, retro/futuristic elegance. For our EP release show I wore this fantastic silver denim jumpsuit designed by my friend Saira Huff that I describe as “Debbie Harry from outer space.” I’m into jumpsuits lately and the idea/feeling of having an “uniform”. Also Anna Karina, Jane Birkin, & Harriet Wheeler.
AF: What is your writing process like?
L: The songs on the EP are based on a bunch of demos I had lying around before I met Devery and Tara. The way I usually write is, I’ll be on the subway or whatever and a musical idea will occur to me. Later, when I’m home, I’ll flesh it out, figuring out the structure and finding the right sounds. Words come last.
D: Lawrence is a songwriting machine.
AF: Will you speak to your love of Beach Boys? Who is your favorite? Have you seen Love & Mercy yet?
L: Brian Wilson once said something like he wanted to make records that were like arms reaching out of the speakers and wrapping themselves around the listener and making the listener feel loved. I think that’s really beautiful, and that’s something I try to to do with our songs. Haven’t seen Love & Mercy — looking forward to checking it out.
AF: What are you looking forward to in the future?
D: Playing more shows, writing new songs. People have been really enthusiastic about the material and our live show, and I hope to keep sharing that as much as possible.
L: I’d just like to continue to create good music and share it with people.