Deerhoof Picks: Old friends, new friends and dog-sitting serendipity

Tuesday 19th, June 2018 / 17:04
By Alec Warkentin


Deerhoof’s festival picks include nine musical acts, one comedian and one short film.

Greg quote: “ If we were going to try and represent Deerhoof’s taste on a curated festival, we were definitely going to be choosing the artists that, you know, that we think of as being more in our family tree. A bit more kind of aggressive, and less controlled.” 


Cherry Glazerr: “I think we first became aware of them because they kept posting Instagram photos of themselves with Deerhoof t-shirts [laughs]. So, it was actually like them reaching out to us, and then us realizing that we really loved their music. It’s bold, and like, brave. And it’s also kind of garage-rocky, power-rocky… and we felt like we really had a lot in common.” 


empath: “Garrett [Koloski], the drummer, was playing drums in Perfect Pussy, who we really loved and had toured with. And then when they stopped playing and moved to Philadelphia …the next thing we knew he had formed this other band! And, like, it’s as if half of what was going on in empath was straight from the textbook of Perfect Pussy. It’s so aggressive, so loud. And then, the other half of it couldn’t have been more different… almost like a quaint approach to songwriting [with] little musical surprises that were about notes and rhythms and weren’t just about noise and destruction, you know.” 


Eucademix: “Yuka Honda was the keyboard player, one half of Cibo Matto, who we were just fans of in the nineties, and then, to our own amazement, became acquainted with in the 2000’s because she was always coming to our shows. Then she got married to Nels Cline, who was an old friend of ours as well, and [with whom] we’d collaborated a bunch of times, and played shows with various bands of his over the years. Yuka was very much suddenly a part of the family. Like, every time Yuka or someone else goes out of town, Satomi [Deerhoof vocalist/bassist] takes care of their dog, Buttercup. I’ve never actually heard Eucademix, but I just know it’s her solo and I’m really into everything she does.” 


Tyondai Braxton: “We knew him from Battles. Satomi was like his neighbour, and would see him around in the neighbourhood all the time. She might have taken care of his dog too [laughs]. Most of the bands on this festival have been curated only because Satomi takes care of their dog. Personally, I think it’s quite difficult to pull off live electronic music because there’s often not much to look at. But Ty’s thing really is one of the few that I’ve ever seen that really encouraged me to want to just close my eyes. Just get lost in the sound. It’s sort of a rare chance to see him play live, and get completely enveloped in the beauty of the sound, and follow the way it changes.” 


Guerilla Toss: “Guerilla Toss was just another kind of band that was friends of friends, that we had been trying to play with for a long time and it never worked out, and this just seemed like the perfect opportunity, and Sled Island was really enthusiastic about bringing them. I don’t know, I’ve never actually seen them live, I’ve watched a bunch of live videos of them playing and thought it was really awesome. It will be my first time actually meeting them.” 


Prissy Whip: “That was [Deerhoof guitarist] Ed’s choice. Ed met them in Los Angeles, and it was like… I was saying earlier we never agree on anything, but one thing that we have in common is a love of bands that have a lot of energy on stage, and that aren’t too shy, or conservative, about performing… We sometimes feel surprised how often bands will take that opportunity, and sort of squander it by still playing some kind of weird game where they try to impress higher-ups… they can’t act like they’re not towing the line. Prissy Whip is partly a band that is not interested in that at all, and they’re totally free and just do what they want.” 


Shabazz Palaces: “We actually have played on a festival with them before, but didn’t know them beforehand. But we heard it like coming through the walls when we started playing, and when we were on our way out… and suddenly we heard this music coming through the wall. It was so insane, and we were like: “Wait! We don’t care if we’re late for the plane, we have to see what’s going on here!” Quite a few years later, we bumped into them randomly on the street in Sao Paolo, of all places. We were both at the same soccer game, we were both on tour in Brazil at the same time, and ran into them, and just kind of re-acquainted ourselves and told them what fans we were of their music. [We] sort of expressed to each other that next time there was a good opportunity that we might be able to do something together, that we should do it. And [Sled] was the perfect chance.” 


Solid Freex: “The drummer of Solid Freex is a really old friend of ours. He usually plays in a one-man band called Trin Tran that, every time we played in Wisconsin, we’d invite to be on the bill with us. But so many years had passed where we were doing this, that finally he had actually formed a band with his own children… and last time we went through Madison we had them open instead. They were just completely amazing.” 


Wye Oak: “We were like really vaguely acquainted with Jenn [Wasner] for years.. we asked her to sing on our record, which she graciously did and made the song so much better than it was. There was a show last year in Baltimore… and she joined us on stage. We did the song live, with her, which we had never tried before, and it was tremendous. So, we definitely had to see if Wye Oak was gonna be available because we just really wanted to do the song again [laughs]. I mean, she’s great. She’s just an absolute master. Such a good singer.” 


George Chen: “George Chen is someone we’ve known really since the beginning of Deerhoof, in the mid-nineties. He was a fixture in the San Francisco Bay Area scene, and it seemed like for every show, he was often the organizer of that show. But he was always so funny, and could just make everybody laugh all the time. [Deerhoof guitarist] John Dieterich takes credit for suggesting to George that he should try stand-up, and like, I think a year or two later John happened to bump into him on the sidewalk, and George said he was on his way to try his first open mic.” 


Becky James: “She’s an animator with whom we’re very well acquainted, and just really huge fans of her. Visually, sometimes very crude and simple looking, but kind of philosophically and conceptually very neat. Sometimes complicated, often troubled, and I think, ultimately, very emotional… we felt aesthetically in common with her work, using really simple materials to attempt to create something that’s still very rich with possible meanings.” 


Deerhoof’s picks play at multiple venues throughout the duration of Sled Island. The festival takes place June 20 – 24 in Calgary.

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