Missing a music festival due to travel delays caused by a snow storm is worse than the brown frozen crunchy puddles that fill Brooklyn. Rather than escape the cold concrete jungle for warm Savannah, where New York City-based “pretty/gritty” pop rockers Parlour Tricks were performing, I had to settle for an interview, which was a chance for a lovely conversation of intelligence and insight. Although, I continue to look forward to the day I can see Parlour Tricks, an AudioFemme favorite, live. Before they head out for this year’s SXSW,I chatted with band member Lily Cato about life on the road, their upcoming debut full-length album, and how cool it would be to perform with Chance the Rapper. .
Audiofemme: Your hometown is New York – how did you all end up in the city?
Lily Cato: I grew up in the city. Everyone else moved for college. I’m lucky they did.
AF:What is your favorite New York City venue?
LC: Mercury Lounge.
AF: Best neighborhood?
LC: I love the East Village and Chinatown in Manhattan and Park Slope in Brooklyn. But then all the museums are uptown…
AF: How did you meet and form ParlourTricks?
LC: We met in college. I started writing music in my third or fourth year, and asked these cool kids to play with me to see if the songs were any good. It was a crapshoot.
AF: How do you enjoy life on the road?
LC: Genuinely love it.
AF: Your set up of three vocalists is rather talked about, how did the band formation come about?
LC: First it was just me, Brian, Terry and Angelo, no other women. But I’d hear these thick three-part harmonies in my head in every song I wrote, and finally realized we needed to expand the family. Deedee and Morgane gave me everything I was looking for.
AF: What do you miss most from home while traveling?
LC: Not having to load and unload gear every day is a simple pleasure.
AF: Who were your musical icons?
LC: Elvis Presley and Tom Waits. Still are.
AF: If you could have anyone join you on stage – who would it be?
LC: Chance the Rapper.
AF: Could you tell me a little bit about the band’s visual style, and fashion sense as noted on stage?
LC: We put a lot of work and care into how we sound. How we look is just an extension of that. We’re putting on a show, you know?
AF: Where did your band name come from?
LC: I always loved the idea of “parlourtricks.” People used to get together in someone’s living room and entertain each other. The intimacy of it. Make your own fun.
AF: Your music has been described as much retro and built for the future, if you could see yourself thriving in any time but the present what would it be?
LC: Any time that will have us, I guess. I think we’d do OK amongst the dinosaurs. Really get back to basics.
AF: What’s next for ParlourTricks?
LC: We are so, so psyched to be releasing our debut full-length album with Bar/None Records this June
For a taste of what they’re like live, watch Parlour Tricks’ recent Audiotree session below:
A precursor to SXSW, Savannah Stopover takes place March 5-7 in downtown Savannah, a haunting and iconic boutique neighborhood. As far as music getaway’s go, we couldn’t be more stoked to attend the 5th incarnation of Savannah Stopover. Check back for full festival coverage as it unfolds, and make sure to follow AudioFemme on Instagram and Twitter as we abandon the brutal Brooklyn weather for warmer scenery with one fantastic soundtrack. We’re still anxiously plotting our schedules to see how we’re going to catch as many acts, including some featured local bands, as possible, but here are five that we’re sure to see.
The Chicago-based folk artist Ryley Walker has been causing the music scene to bat their eyelashes. We can’t wait to tap our feet to these tunes in agreement. His sophomore release Primrose Green, the follow-up to the well-received full-length debutcomes out next month. Rambling and soulful, inspired both by jazz and noise music, the 25-year-old creates a collage of the Chicago music network to come up with a sound that’s wholly his own.
We’re going to want a front and center spot for Brooklyn’s Fort Lean. The vastness of their sound can surprise you they’re from Brooklyn, as if the city is too crowded to produce such chill expressions. Play into type, grab a craft beer, and see if you can fight through the seduction to stick around for the late-night shows rather than back to your motel room with a lover after listening to these dreamers.
Amythyst Kiah and Her Chest of Glass Saturday, March 7 5:00pm
Friday, March 6 7:00pm (solo show)
Tennessee singer-songwriter and roots artist Amythyst Kiah is joined with friends Her Chest of Glass for the ultimate Saturday afternoon cocktail hour time slot. “Gothic Southern Folk” is about the most exciting mix mash of adjectives I’ve ever seen to describe music, in researching artists Mythyst has to be one we’re most thrilled for (not to mention she’s got killer style).
Parlour Tricks Saturday, March 7 7:00pm
Parlour Tricks have made the AudioFemme front page before, and this editor thanks her lucky stars (as Parlour Tricks might say) to see how the New York City pop rockers translate their buzzed-about stage presence to serene Savannah.
Saturday, March 7 12:00am
After you’ve shaken off any visuals invoked by their name, Nashville’s Diarrhea Planet are downright delightful. The punk rockers promise to deliver the climax of the festival with their Saturday late-night time slot. With bold vocals, wild lyrics, and grimy guitars, we’re sure to get sweaty for this one.
Generationals, Southern Culture On The Skids, San Fermin, ASTR, Matthew E. White, Computer Magic, Diarrhea Planet, Reptar, All Them Witches, French Horn Rebellion, Donald Cumming (of The Virgins), Dumpstaphunk, Parlour Tricks, Hiss Golden Messenger, Heavenly Beat, Gap Dream, Rocco DeLuca, Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires, ISHI, Bombadil, Rose Quartz, Family and Friends, Capsula, Tall Tall Trees, Born Cages, Beach Day, Fat Tony, Horse Thief, Fly Golden Eagle, Mothxr, Young Buffalo, Jack + Eliza, SALES, Mainland, Christopher Paul Stelling, Clear Plastic Masks, Ryley Walker, Buxton, Fort Lean, Corners, PitchBlak Brass Band, Cobalt Cranes, Alanna Royale, Baby Bee, Lilly Hiatt, this mountain, Dreamers, Reputante, Caleb Caudle, Axxa/Abraxas, Suburban Living, Avers, Amythyst Kiah + Her Chest of Glass, Adia Victoria, Margo and the Pricetags, The Prettiots, Guthrie Brown & The Family Tree, ELEL, Grounders, BLKKATHY, Blank Range, White Violet, What Moon Things, Fire Mountain, Emilyn Brodsky, Needle Points, Lace Curtains, Music Band, Las Rosas, Semicircle, Ruby the RabbitFoot, Little Racer, Bedroom, Grand Vapids, Bond St. District, 100 Watt Horse, Cusses, Triathalon, Velvet Caravan, Damon & The Shitkickers, Penicillin Baby, Wet Socks, Crazy Bag Lady, Sunglow, Coeds, Wave Slaves, Beneath Trees, Paving Gravy, Nightingale News, Saint Corsair, A.M. Rodriguez, Boy Harsher, Blackrune, Black Water Choir, Heavy Boots
Lily Claire, frontwoman and primary songwriter for the New York-based Parlour Tricks, gets wild-eyed when she performs. Standing squarely in the middle of the stage at the Mercury Lounge last Saturday, wearing a white tunic with a black collar (her backup singers wore matching outfits, but with the colors reversed), Claire gripped the microphone and gave the audience this look, poised yet deer-in-headlights-ish, as if she were a circa-1920s high-end jewelry thief, stealing just for the thrill of it, and to escape the tedium of her wealthy but loveless marriage, and we were the police squadron waiting outside her secret trapdoor exit to catch her with her bag of loot. Drama flatters rock and roll.
The six-piece bases operations out of New York City, though technically Claire is the only native. True to its name, Parlour Tricks consists of an array of hometowns, and many different musical scenes–its members hail from Philadelphia, Nashville and Paris, to name just a few. If you listen to the singles the group has released over the past couple of years, the show-magic quality of the name links best to the Parlour Tricks’ sense of theater, the heavy beats and brawny soprano vocal harmonies. A performance from Tricks falls into the category of stage magic that happens at close range in front of a small audience; no pyrotechnics necessary. On Claire’s left and right, backup singers Morgane Moulherat and Darah Golub didn’t need acrobatics to coax the high drama out of their voices. Just standing there, swaying in tandem, like they were being pulled by the same tide. They looked haunting as a pair of Greek Sirens.
All told, Tricks’ output has been surprisingly small, just a few singles over the last couple of years. Why surprisingly? Maybe because “Belle Gunness” got featured in that BMW commercial, or maybe–relatedly–because every track they’ve released has the “this is it” quality of a breakout hit. Standing in the audience, amidst an enthusiastic-ish crowd (sidebar, paraphrased from my notebook: Why, in the presence of all the group’s musical prowess and slight of hand, all its heavy hooks and belty harmonies, was a Saturday night crowd at the Mercury Lounge only enthusiastic-ish?), I felt that with each song a heavy weight dropped, the way a young band performs the first song that comes straight from the guts. But the songs didn’t talk to each other. Every last one was a power single. Every last one was a breakdown, an epiphany, a turning point. I couldn’t imagine them all crowded onto an album together.
About three quarters of the way through the band’s set, Claire said “This is a song about a crazy woman,” turned her back to the audience, and shook out her shampoo-commercial-shiny hair. “Me,” she added off the mic, laughing in the direction of her bass player. The band launched into “Bukowski,” which turned out to be my favorite performance of the night, because though it began and ended in the spotlight, the song’s theatrics meandered into shadowier–and more vulnerable–corners between the hooks. Maybe it was the combination of a crunchily chaotic guitar line with Moulherat and Golub’s high-pealing (even for them!) vocal lines. Certainly it helped when Claire eased her pose at the microphone. Once she began to amble around the stage and joke with her fellow players, the aesthetic got pleasantly rumpled. They looked more like a band, and less like a portrait.
Check out the music video for Tricks’ irrepressible latest, “Lovesongs,” below. You can go here to buy a download!
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