Brooklyn, New York’s Let’s Be Loveless dropped their debut self-titled EP several weeks ago, and we’ve been unable to stop listening since. The band name is deceptive: while it hints at a love for MBV-era shoegaze, the sound itself is another matter entirely. Hints of Lush, J-Pop playfulness, Panda Riot, even a dash of Mazzy Star infuse this dreamy, textured sound. Rather than simply rely on jangly guitars and sonic wash, Let’s Be Loveless back it up with songs. Actual songs you find yourself tapping your toes to. Sure, the Britpop and indie influences are there, and fit like a well-worn but indispensable pair of sneakers, but it’s the songs themselves that keep you coming back.
While the EP’s opener, Video Song has gotten the most attention so far, there isn’t a clunker on the disk, start to finish. Four carefully-crafted gems await you, each establishing a different feel. Probably the track Star Matter is the one we most often crank up in studio, just because it’s such an original breath of fresh air, driven by Eric Arikian’s enticing guitar signature. We decided to dig up the dirt on these apparent newcomers, and find out what their further plans for world domination might be.
Let’s Be Loveless is:
Chris Whalen: Bass
Eric Arikian: Guitars/Sequencing
Abby Camaya: Vocals/Keyboards
Gary Elliott: Drums
DKFM: What got this team of musicians together in the first place?
Eric: It goes back a bit… Chris, Gary and I have been playing 3 chord rock (a la Replacements) for about five years together under a different name. It wasn’t really going anywhere, and we were getting sick of begging our friends to come see me scream like a hyena for 30 minutes in shit-hole bars. It ran its course, but we weren’t ready to give up so quickly since we played so tightly together. We started really tapping into our creative side after seeing so much amazing music being made around us, especially in Brooklyn. I think we just wanted to be a part of it. When we met Abby, it felt like she was the missing piece to the LBL puzzle. Her natural pop-sensibility was something that we never had. Hearing those early demos with her singing for the first time was really exciting. It was like, “Wow. There’s nothing like this out here. We have to get into a studio ASAP.” Now we are fully operational 4-piece Dreampop Band. Honestly, I never thought I’d be playing music like this.
DKFM: If I read the press right, 3/4ths of the band are Brooklynites, while your vocalist Abby hails from the SF Bay Area. What brought THAT about, and how are you dealing with the bi-coastal issue?
Abby: I moved to Brooklyn in the summer of 2012. It has been an adventure I’ve wanted to experience for a long time, since I was a child. I was anxious about finding the right band once I moved, but luckily it’s worked out well.
DKFM: What music did you listen to that has helped to color your sound? I can pick up any number of subtle influences, but Let’s Be Loveless is no pale imitation of ANY of them.
Eric: I’m not sure if there is any specific bands that we try to sound like specifically. If you were to look at my record collection, there’s way more Beatles and Stones than dreampop/shoegaze. Our songs do have traditional song structures and those classic songs definitely set the template for our songwriting. When we jam on ideas, we keep asking ourselves: “Is this a song?” I think our influences come out subconsciously when we play. I can name a dozen records that I maniacally obsessed over in the past 5 years, but I don’t think they would set a road map back to what we are doing. We have our own formula that works well for us. We try to reference our favorite bands when writing, but it still sounds like us in the end.
Abby: We all love a lot of the same bands. Vocally, my idols include Bjork, Morrissey, Astrud Gilberto. I definitely love my share of bands with female singers, like Trish Keenan (Broadcast), Harriet Wheeler (Sundays), Nina Persson (Cardigans), and on and on. I can’t get enough of a soft, effortless vocal that makes you feel warm and fuzzy, like you’re being lulled to sleep.
DKFM: Formed in summer 2012, dropped a demo, a single, now an EP. At this rate, you’ve got an album dropping before year’s end, right?
CW: Eventually I’m sure. I’m a big fan of the single and I think you’ll probably hear a few more from us before the year’s end and maybe even another EP. We have no shortage of music, we often record our rehearsals and have a lot of new songs we’re working on. I really hope to get the opportunity to release something on vinyl. In the meantime, we will be releasing a limited edition cassette with a free download of our latest EP this summer. We’ll be selling it on Bandcamp and at our shows.
DKFM: So far it looks like the touring schedule has centered in and around Brooklyn. Are you planning to take this sound further out into the boroughs, and even out of New York state?
CW: We’re really just starting out. It’s important to us to be part of a local music community and I think we still have to cultivate our hometown support before branching too far out. We do have some roots elsewhere in the Northeast and playing outside the City is something we often talk about. Hoboken, New Brunswick, Philly, Boston, DC are all really just a short trip away. If we hook up with some local bands we would definitely head out of town. I’d love to make the occasional trip out to the west coast or to one of the many festivals.
Abby: It would be really great to go back to CA and play with musician friends in San Francisco.
Eric: Playing in the Brooklyn music community is important to me. I still feel like we are the new kids on the block here even though some of us have been playing for over 6 years together.
DKFM: The music industry has certainly changed, even over the last five years or so. The self-release and distribution model has served you well enough to this point. Have you considered a supportive independent label to help spread the word, or do you simply prefer the DIY aesthetic?
CW: I’ve always wanted to believe that people will recognize and support great music if they get the opportunity to hear it. Unfortunately, there is so much great music out there that will never see the light of day. For me, the initial response to our EP has been truly endearing. I can’t believe the places we’ve been able to reach with very little promotion in such a short period of time. There is a devoted community of dream pop enthusiasts around the world and platforms like Bandcamp have enabled us to connect with supporters from as far as Japan, Germany and Brazil. But bands like us are only half of any music scene. Without an active community setting up shows, releasing records, blogging or hosting internet radio stations like DKFM, many bands would just wither and die on the vine. So yeah, we’d love to collaborate with like-minded labels and promoters that share our vision but we’re not just going to jump at any opportunity just for the sake of putting out a record.
DKFM: What’s your biggest accomplishment as a band so far?
Abby: Rehearsing sober.
Eric: Ha! We are very sober players. Lame, right?
GE: After a few years of playing some pretty demoralizing shows I love the fact that we’ve already been able to share the stage with some inspiring local bands and play to enthusiastic crowds. It’s just so much more motivating.
DKFM: Let’s Be Loveless won’t be a secret outside of Brooklyn for much longer. Ideally, what does the next chapter hold?
Eric: Tough question. I don’t think we are ready for world domination yet like you said (way to set expectations Greg!) As for our future: Who knows. Honestly, we just like to write good music and get it out to the right people. The DIY mentality has done well for us, but sometimes a little help couldn’t hurt. We’d love to record a masterful debut, but it doesn’t seem practical at this moment since we don’t know what the demand is yet. Putting it out ourselves can be daunting so a little label support would be nice. Anyway, we are demoing about four songs now that hint at psych rock, fuzz pop, and some really heavy shoegaze. The songs are awesome and we can’t wait to get back into a real studio again. We are excited about all our summer shows too. It’s going to be a fun summer.
DKFM: Finally, what would you like to share with your new fans, about yourselves, about independent music, about life in general?
Abby: I will happily dog sit for you! I have an unhealthy obsession with dogs, especially since I have a yellow labrador who is still in California. I may look into getting therapy soon. On a more serious note, here’s something motivational that was probably written in my high school yearbook, “Be fearless and go for what you want!” It’s healthy to reinvent yourself, whether it’s in a new band or moving 3000 miles across the country.
Eric: Thank you for playing our music Greg. Especially next to artists we admire. We worked really hard making something awesome, and it means so much that you recognized it.
GE: I’m continually amazed by the all the technology that is being leveraged by bands and other people in the music scene these days, even though it’s way too easy to obsess over how many youtube views and bandcamp listens you’re getting. As a musician it’s exciting to know that it’s getting easier and easier to reach the small subset of the world that might be really into what you’re creating. It’s a great time to be involved with independent music.
A great time, indeed. Follow Let’s Be Loveless on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and of course Bandcamp.