Welcome to our weekly show recommendation column RSVP HERE – your source for the best NYC shows and interviews with some of our favorite local live bands.
After seeing Godcaster for the first time, I imagined they all grew up together on a purple mountain surrounded by space dragons on one of Saturns moons. Turns out I was half right: they have been playing music together since they were kids and called themselves a band before they even played instruments. Their members are split between Philadelphia and Brooklyn, and played 25 shows of their well-composed glam chaos in NYC last year, landing themselves on Oh My Rockness’ list of Hardest Working Bands of 2019. Their first show of the new decade is on 1/10 at Baby’s All Right with many of the other bands on this list including Cindy Cane, Darkwing, Gesserit, Top Nachos, and New Myths. We chatted with Godcaster about flute solos, Europa and the hand seekers…
AF: What was your favorite moment of your 2019 shows? Who was the best dancer you saw at one of your shows? Where and with what band do you want to play in the next year that you haven’t yet?
GC: When the piston misfired in the old van / big wheelie across Utah. Best dancer: David! Who we want to play with: Deerhoof!
AF: How large is your collection of fringe jackets? What’s the most creative use of the fringe on your jacket?
GC: Keeping in terms with the hand seekers, we are big we are valid
AF: If you could play on any planet, moon, black hole or another celestial variety in the universe, where would it be & why?
GC: Europa the frozen moon with the elves!
AF: What is the most inspirational flute solo you have ever heard?
GC: Keeping in terms with the hand seekers! Delving quick and valid
AF: What are your plans for 2020 + beyond?
GC: Continue commencing big velocity undergoing valid dirth and keep rockin around!
Eliza Black has the haunting, resounding voice of a fallen angel. With her low, slow, speaking voice – not quite a drawl but dripping a bit of Texas, her large, melancholy eyes, endearing gap-toothed grin, thick waves, liquid limbs, and flowing skirts, she channels some serious nereid stage vibes. I first saw Eliza perform in rock group Fruit & Flowers in 2014. It was their premiere set, and they played to a packed and enthusiastic room at Muchmore’s. Since then, I have seen Eliza make appearances on many instruments in many bands across the Brooklyn scene: Cindy Cane, Ecstatic Union, Gustaf, Darkwing, Faidy Cat, and Plain Dog… I was familiar with some of her co-songwriting via FxF, but it wasn’t until February 2018 that I saw Eliza play a solo set. She played electric using an echo pedal. I was very enchanted (and so were a number of my Instagram followers, spewing heart emojis and “new crush” under the brief video clip I posted of one of her tunes). And I was thrilled when she finally got her own band together to play out those songs: Gesserit. Gesserit released a beautiful debut single entitled “Silence” this past winter. Eliza Black is also a single mom — to one of the friendliest cats in town and one of the chilliest turtles around.
AF: Please introduce us to your fluffy friend and your scaly friend.
EB: Introducing Lazer Beem the kitty cat and Lemen (Lemmy) the turtle!
AF: How did Lazer become a part of your life?
EB: Maybe seven years ago at this point a friend of mine back in Amarillo decided to head to Austin to live a vagabond lifestyle and trusted me to care for Lazer. We became fast friends and she’s been a huge part of my life ever since.
AF:What about your little turtle?
EB: I actually adopted him from the streets of Brownsville when I used to live there back in 2017. A neighbor was chilling outside as he always did, but one day he had a turtle in a Tupperware container and asked me if I wanted him. I was on my way to a concert, but I accepted. I immediately found a proper container for him and his been a part of the family ever since.
AF: What are some of your favorite activities to do alongside your pets?
EB: Me and Lazer love to sleep. She follows me everywhere I go in the apartment, so she is always part of my daily domestic activities. Lemmy is kind of hard to engage with but I’ll let him roam around the apartment every now and again.
AF: Tell us about your life growing up. Were you around many animals?
EB: I always had pets, from tortoises to fish, cats to dogs, horses to goats, hamsters, rabbits, a parrot…
AF: Are there other musicians in your family?
EB: My father is a very talented musician. A lot of that side of the family is musically inclined. My great grandpa used to play fiddle with Bob Wills at ranch house parties. It runs in the blood for sure.
AF: Who or what inspired you to become a musician?
EB: My father, Cher, Shania Twain, and George Strait.
AF:What instrument did your start on?
EB: Piano. I could play guitar and eventually took guitar lessons, but I hated practicing. I always felt like I could improvise on piano and it would still make “music.”
AF: What was the name of your first band?
EB: Gesserit is my first band! My first band of exclusively my own material. I had a SoundCloud account under the moniker “The New Rebecca” dating back to 2011 but it was never a fully realized band. I was always composing and playing alone.
AF: When did you move to Brooklyn, and what prompted your move?
EB: I moved here in June of 2013. I was getting restless in Amarillo and drugs were being introduced into my life. I was just partying all the time. I wanted something more than that. I wanted to move to New York to pursue a visual arts career and eventually become a curator at a museum. I always felt more comfortable in musical abilities, so I ended up working in that direction full time.
AF:Give us a run-down of your Brooklyn projects, past and present.
EB: Oh Jeez. Crafting songs alone on my mandolin and synth. That’s when “Gesserit” actually started. I wanted it to be an ambient noise/movie score project…
Co-creating Fruit and Flowers. Playing and touring extensively for a few years. Leaving FxF to focus on and actualize “Gesserit.”
AF:What is your favorite song about animals?
EB: “Fishing for Fishies” by King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, “Animals” by CocoRosie… Does Pet Sounds by Beach Boys count? Ha ha.
AF: Have you ever written a song about (non-human) animals?
EB: Yes, sort of. I’ve compared freight trains to animals in a song.
AF:Do your pets inspire your writing process (or distract you) in any way?
EB: The only time I find them distracting is when Lazer lures me into a nap or when I forget to turn off Lemmy’s turtle tank filter when I’m recording in my room and I can hear it on the track. But I’ve actually used that in songs before and it can be quite nice.
AF: If your cat and your turtle were to form a band, what would the name be?
EB: Le Reptazer
AF: Who would play what instrument?
EB: Lemen would high dive into a mic’d bucket of water and Lazer would claw on a drum kit.
AF: If you could have any type of pet as a sibling to your current ones, what species would it be (real or fictional)?
EB: Lazer really hates other animals and I have a feeling Lemmy isn’t too fond either. I guess I would be the ghost of a bird and be their guardian angel.
AF: What spirit animal do you identify with?
EB: A wild horse or a “spirit bear.”
AF:I’ve heard some friends say they think Lazer looks like you. Do you think this is true? What do you think is behind that human-animal bond theory that causes this phenomenon?
EB: Lazer and I definitely have similar interests and mannerisms. Maybe even a similar unbothered gaze. I think when any creatures spend enough time together, they become a reflection of each other.
AF:When is the Gesserit debut expected to release?
EB: Can’t say. As soon as I acquire a label deal then I will know.
AF:Are you going back on tour any time soon?
EB: I don’t plan to tour until there is a record to promote.
AF: What do you miss the most about your fluff and shell baby the most when you are away?
EB: Cuddles with Lazer. Lemmy is somehow in my dreams when I’m traveling, so I don’t miss him too much.
AF: Any upcoming Brooklyn shows?
EB: We play May 25th at Rough Trade and June 3 at the new clubhouse The Broadway! Super stoked for those.
You can also catch Eliza Black solo at Two Boots Pizza in Williamsburg on June 12th.
Sundance Kidd shreds on guitar, bass, and the mic. Ze never misses a note on guitar and seems to automatically learn any song by ear. You may have seen them in a whole slew of Brooklyn’s rock bands as of late, such as Gesserit and Darkwing. Ze has also made numerous guest pop-up guest appearances singing in bands like Whiner, Halloween cover sets, Lost Boy ?, and Gustaf. You’re just as likely to see Sundance Kidd behind the camera, capturing the many action-packed moments in a live set: musicians carrying each other on their shoulders, diving off stage, rolling around through beer drenched cables, or perfectly posing for press shots. This past fall, Sundance Kidd hosted a photography show at Two Boots Pizza Williamsburg, displaying some of these raucous photographs in order to raise money for The Russel Efros Foundation to support cinematography and photography students at SVA. In their spare time, Sundance Kidd has another passion: cats. Though ze isn’t currently a pet parent, ze gets their feline fix in caring for fellow Brooklyn musicians’ cats. I present to you Brooklyn’s Rock N’ Roll Catsitter.
AF: What was your first favorite band?
SK: Led Zeppelin. They were my first tattoo as well.
AF: When did you start playing music?
SK: When I was 13. My dad showed me a documentary about Jimmy Page and I told him I wanted to play like that. It’s funny because I played classical guitar until I 16 and bought my own electric guitar and amp. It was Korean Gibson Les Paul knockoff. But my dad helped me buy the amp which was an Orange Crush FX Amplifer that still works and has lived with me in every apartment I’ve called home. So that’s 12 years of me practicing on the same amp – wow!
AF: What was your first instrument?
SK: Cello! I played in my elementary school orchestra into freshman year of high school.
AF: Where did you grow up, and did you have any pets?
SK: I grew up in North New Jersey, twenty minutes from Penn Station. I always had pets. My parents were really into Chihuahuas so that’s all we had growing up. We always had multiple pets in the house at all times. I think the most dogs we had at the same time was five. Not to mention we also had other animals as well. We had Zebra Finches (Jagger, Keith, Watts, and Beep), a black cat (Styx), and my mom had this fantasy of owning horses so we had two of those (Brenden, and Cinnabar). They were very expensive pets and you could probably write an entire separate article about me being the clichè “weird horse girl” growing up.
AF: What was your first pet’s name?
SK: My first dog that was mine and bonded to me was a short-haired chihuahua named Chloe. She was 18 years old when she died and I got her when I was three.
AF: How did you get into photography?
SK: I always was interested in photography from an early age. I had a Polaroid camera when I was young child and I always have and still take so many photos on my phone where ever I go. I have a pretty crappy memory overall so I think for me photography became so important because it reminds me of things I’ve done. I can always look back at the photos I’ve taken and it jump starts my memory and takes me back to that moment.
AF: Did you start off as a visual or musical artist?
SK: I think they happened at the same time. I didn’t start playing in bands until I’d say 2014/15 so pretty late in life. I didn’t start challenging myself with photography until this past year though. I think I was waiting for the right time for me to feel confident enough to show everyone my work and music.
AF: What brought you to Brooklyn?
SK: A fresh start, an opportunity to turn over a new leaf and find a sense of purpose and belonging.
AF: How did you get involved in the Brooklyn music scene?
SK: The first friend I made in Brooklyn who encouraged me to go out and meet his friends was Rich Gold of Darkwing. His friend Luke played in a project called Wolf Diamond and for about six months I was switching playing bass and drums with the three of them. That’s also how I met Lyzi Wakefield who is the brilliant mind behind Gesserit. I definitely consider her and the rest of the band my favorite people in our music community. Other than that, I’ve been friends with the members of What Moon Things, Whiner, and Smøck before I moved here. So having familiar faces around me along with the new was very comforting.
AF: Can you give us a run-down of your musical projects in New York?
SK: Currently, my main dedication and primary project is Gesserit. I’ve filled in on bass and drums in other projects in Brooklyn like HARMS, Wolf Diamond, and High Waisted. I occasionally write music with my other people but it’s never a solidified unit that goes out and plays shows or records. I’m very open to the idea of playing in a second project. I’m just very particular on who I play music with. For me it’s definitely a certain chemistry that has to be present with the other players and it’s never personal. It’s just an instinct.
AF: You recently recorded in Georgia with Gesserit. What was that like?
SK: It was an incredible experience working with Drew Vanderberg (who has worked with Toro Y Moi, Of Montreal, Ra Ra Riot, and Mothers). He is one of the kindest people I ever met and extremely encouraging and patient to work with. We went together as band for about two weeks to record in the middle of nowhere in a very old Church called The Portico Study Center . To be honest, it’s long hours spending every day doing take after take. The experience overall was very rewarding and I really felt like I bonded with Lyzi, Tarra and José. It taught me a lot of self discipline as an artist and allowed me to focus on the music as well as myself without the distractions of my normal daily life in New York. Also, Drew owns two beautiful fur babies named Tallulah and Sweetpea. Sweetpea is a very special cat who has a tail that’s the size of her body. She is extremely playful and very cuddly!
AF: One of your cat clients is Lyzi Wakefield’s kitty Lazer. What is she like?
SK: Cat Clients isn’t the word I’d use to describe the people I catsit for. They’re all very wonderful friends of mine who trust me enough to take care of their fur children while they’re away. I love animals so much and many people know how well I treat them. It’s a real privilege to be asked to take care of someone’s babies. Lazer Beam is a furry angel brought down here to Earth to protect and love Lyzi. She is such a wonderfully charming lady who loves to be cuddled and sweetly talked to. Lazer Beam is an older cat and loves to lounge in her usual window spot and is very particular about her nap times. I love Lazer because of how expressive she is. Lazer Beam loves to smile!
AF: Has a (non-human) animal ever been the subject of your art, either visual, musical, or cinematic?
SK: I’ve taken some really great pet photos of my dad’s dogs and the cats I meet throughout my life.
AF: What is your favorite song about (non-human) animals?
SK: “Ozma” by Shannon and the Clams. You think it’s a love song because you can’t really hear the words she singing, but then you listen closer and you realize she’s singing about missing her deceased bulldog, and then you get even more emotional.
AF: What is your spirit animal?
SK: People have told me I’m very puppy-like, but I don’t think I’m energetic or friendly. Personally, I think I’m a baby harp seal. I am very cute, a little chubby, a prankster, curious, and I love being stationary and lounging around (I do ten things at once most of the time so when I do get a moment to myself I love to be lazy).
AF: If you were a cat, where would you sleep? And would you be a back snoozer or more of a loaf-kitty or crescent sleeper?
SK: I would sleep cuddled up with my person because I love cuddles. I think I would be a crescent sleeper. I like to take up the entire bed and all the space to myself!
AF: You also cat-sit for Jess from High Waisted. What is her kitty friend like?
SK: Baby Burger is forever a youthful kitten! She is extremely affectionate and very vocal. She is a very good listener and usually will talk back to you. She loves to be held and cuddled which is why she is my favorite cat to sit for. She also is a total HAM for photos and poses for you!
AF: Any other feline friends to note?
SK: The Kirch Kittens whose mommy is Natalie of Sharkmuffin [and author of this column] and daddy is Davey of Lost Boy ?…
… Sweetpea, whose daddy is Drew (our Gesserit producer)…
…Poopy whose mommies are Tine (of Gustaf) and Helena…
… Also, not a cat but I love her – Harriet whose mommies are Angela (of Gustaf) and Marisa.
AF: You are clearly an animal lover. Why haven’t you adopted a kitty of your own in Brooklyn?
SK: Because my landlord wants a ridiculous amount of money for a pet fee. But next apartment will definitely be pet friendly.
AF: Share one of your funniest tour stories.
SK: The final day of recording in Athens, Georgia I felt so satisfied playing that final take I went and canoed like five miles down a river and just cried out of bliss.
AF: You just performed with Gustaf at The Haybaby Cat Farm on New Year’s Eve and Our Wicked Lady. When can we see you perform next?
AF: Any other shows, concerts, or releases we should look out for in 2019?
SK: I’m just stoked to see my friends doing what they love live and always discovering new music while making friends! However there are some bands (also my friends) who I’d particularly love to give a shout out to because of how much they’ve done for me this past year – these bands have either asked me to take photos of them, booked shows with me, played countless shows, and overall be consistently wonderful friends: Sharkmuffin, Gustaf, HARMS, What Moon Things, pecas, Smock, Shadow Year, Looms, Whiner, Dead Tooth, Cindy Cane, High Waisted, THICK, Half-Wet , and Nice Knife.
Each week Audiofemme gives away a set of tickets to our featured shows in NYC! Scroll down to enter for the following shindigs.