Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Interview with An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump

I am SO excited about these three grrrls from London. So I asked them a few questions, before they set out to release their first EP, Buy a Life, which features the songs Silent Hour, Smear and Only in Death.  The EP will be available on vinyl at Rough Trade stores on 11/23, worldwide on itunes 11/30 and worldwide on vinyl 12/7. I guess I'll have to wait until December to get my hands on a copy!  You can pre-order it from Rough Trade here.

Can you tell me a little bit about the herstory of your band?

D-Bird: We met in 2007 but formed the band April 2008 after a random jam session. We did our first gig one week after forming and have been on the road ever since .

X-Bird: It all started during a jam session last year. I had never picked up a bass or drummed before but I just picked up the instruments and was just free with it. If you have the ideas, do what you can to make that idea come to life! We just let ourselves go…

How do you think you are perceived, being in an all girl band?

D-Bird:  To be honest, I forget that we are girls until people mention it. I've gone through my whole life thinking I can do anything I want if I put my mind to it. I've never let my race or sex be an invisible obstacle to anything. I go for the jugular everytime and get what I want through sheer knowledge, hard work and talent. No one can steal those things away from you.

X-Bird: People tend to always focus on our gender, or our fringes. We can grow out our fringes but growing a penis is a lot harder. Our gender shouldn’t really be regarded as something that makes us stand out and I don’t think it is, what stands out first and foremost is the music we create. The fact that we are women is purely biological nothing more, nothing less.

C-Bird: Our sexuality shouldn’t really be an issue. We are simply people who happened to be women making music.

What's the scene like in London?

D-Bird:  Kind of weird at the moment. The whole 'darkwave' scene that NME were predicting never really happened as no one was purposely trying to be goth or anything.  There is also a new breed of wannabe-grunge bands emerging east of Shoreditch.  It's pretty exciting as there are so many bands but very, very few are channelling their influences and actually doing anything new and interesting, besides copying their heroes. That's really frustrating to see and be around all the time.  We are pretty much an island to ourselves. We have friends in different bands but we are not part of a set friendship group or scene with just a few certain bands. Everyone in a band is in some kind of clique and it's pretty annoying. I think we're not part of any group because everyone is kind of scared of us!

X-Bird: Coming from the ‘burbs filled me with this drive to one day move to the city with my friends, party every night, form a band, meet interesting people.  To be honest the only thing I’ve achieved out of that list in adulthood is, I’ve formed a band! I did all the other stuff when I was dreaming of moving to the city, sneaking out of the house to go to clubs and gigs in London then even sleeping rough with a few friends in Trafalgar Square until first trains home, all the while telling my parents I was sleeping at a friends house. And it's weird that now once I’m in the city all the time doing gigs, meeting other like minded people, I actually yearn for those moments in suburbia. Don’t get me wrong there are some great moments but sometimes its good to take a breather and not get sucked into too much of the bullshit. You have to keep level headed, no scene will ever make you, you’re the only one who can do that!

C-Bird: The scene in London must seem alluring to some. Coming from outside of London I’ve always wanted to be in the city. That’s where I thought my heart belonged.  It's only when you throw yourself into the midst you realize home isn’t so bad. The scene is bustling though with some cool club nights and interesting bands. You always find your way back in the end.

It seems like there are a lot of interesting women making music in the UK right now, anyone else you think we should know about?

D-Bird:  I really like Veronica Falls, they are 2 girls and 2 guys making really pretty pop songs and sound like one of my favourite bands, The Shop Assistants. I really like LA FOURS, who is a Canadian friend of mine whose moved to London and makes weird and wonderful music on her tape deck.

X-Bird: We saw Veronica Falls play Nail The Cross recently and they were really good! And as D-Bird mentioned, LA FOURS is wonderful. She makes some really interesting and beautiful music.

C-Bird: I’ve always liked Theoretical Girl and LA FOURS who seems to be pushing the boundaries.

Who are some of your female musical influences?

D-Bird:  My all-time favourite woman in music is the massively underrated and understated Hope Sandoval from Mazzy Star. I'm going to see her play in Berlin next week for my birthday. I also love Lydia Lunch who we've played with a few times and is a good friend of ours, PJ HarveyKim Deal, Tanya Donnelly, Kim Gordon and Patti Smith.

X-Bird: I think I’ve said this a number of times now in interviews but I am really inspired by Tina Turner, especially during her Ike and Tina era. Now, there’s this camp quality about her but that woman is fierce. I’ve always been drawn to the Amazonian aspects of female role models, I think it's pretty predictable to say women of this nature are strong as usually this assumption is based purely on the image. Just because a woman can growl doesn’t mean she can bite, but it’s the hope that these women are strong on and off stage that really inspires me. In that respect I suppose I live in that constant hope that I can be that woman on and off stage too.

C-Bird: The Slits have to be one of the best groups around. Their sound is so unique and inspiring. I saw them play a couple of times. Ari Up really knows how to entertain and involve the audience. Like X-Bird, I’ve always found Tina Turner an inspiring figure. Not only with her powerful voice but also with her inner strength.

Who are some of the best bands you've played with so far?  Who would you love to play with?

D-Bird: My favourite band ever is Selfish Cunt who we've luckily played with quite a few times. They are the best band of the century and I hope they go triple platinum and become the biggest band ever! It was an honour to support Teenage Jesus and the Jerks at their only London show and last ever show earlier this year. I also really like Hatcham Social and Male Bonding, they are both very very good bands.

X-Bird: I’ve really enjoyed playing with Selfish Cunt, I remember seeing them first play 6 or 7 years ago when it was just Patrick on guitar and Martin on vocals.  It was the most intense show I’ve ever been to and ever since I’ve been hooked! I loved playing with Lydia Lunch, that woman is an inspiration. And I would love to one day play with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, I’ve been a fan for years since I bought their first EP. For a while ‘Bang’ was played on a well known radio station in the UK without the bit where Karen O sings, ‘As a fuck son, you suck’ bleeped out as they weren’t really sure what she was singing. I thought that was pretty cool.

C-Bird: Definitely playing with Selfsh Cunt has been quite an experience. There are so many bands I wish I could play with. Bikini Kill, The Slits and  The Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Any plans to come to the states?

D-Bird:  We recorded our album in Chicago with Steve Albini in July 2009 and hopefully we will be back touring for SXSW and some other shows in March 2010.

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An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump Blog



  1. I have to see I loved Eve Black Eve White when it was just X-Bird and C-Bird. There is something quite fake about the other one which I think ruins this new sound and makes it seem false and pushed. EBEW was much purer and had pure talent.

  2. I completely agree. but then again it's because there are two sisters so to outsiders i suppose the other person will always stand out ( i think the sisters are twins too?? ) but in this case unfortunately the third stands out for bad reasons. i have had the pleasure of meeting the band in bristol and the two sisters are lovely girls. "D-Bird" on the other hand was too busy revelling in attention and spotlight to see that she was in fact singing awfully and could not play the guitar or bass AT ALL, however i have to say that she does post the most entertaining blogs purely for name drop value!