The Festival Experience with... Deap Vally

Henry Lewis spoke to the Californian duo about their favourite riffs, mother hood and plenty more ahead of their shows at Reading and Leeds this month.

Henry Lewis

Date published: 9th Aug 2017

Image: Erin Broov/ Deap Vally

Sonically, there's little doubt that L.A two piece Deap Vally are cut from the same cloth of the likes of The White Stripes and The Black Keys given that there's two of them, one drummer and one guitarist, producing dirty, bluesy, garage rock riffs with raw, hollered vocals. 

The difference being, that, as two females, the duo use their position of power to deliver feminist messages within their rioutous rockn'n'roll sound. Take 'Smile More', from 2016 album Femejism,for example, where the second verse produces lyrics like: "And I am not ashamed of my sex life/Although I wish it were better/I am not ashamed I am no one's wife/Although the idea does sound kind of nice".

This isn't absolutely always the case, but these sort of references make up a lot of Deap Vally lyrics, and like the anti monarchy views of the Sex Pistols or the ruthless bars of N.W.A et al, Lindsey Troy and Julie Edwards are looking to challenge discrimination via their music.

They show other girls that "yes you can be a woman and be a rocker", and this is ratified even further with Edwards giving birth to daughter Mira in December 2015, who has now become a regular member of the band's touring party.

With a slot forthcoming at Reading Festival and Leeds Festival, we talked to the duo about big riffs, women in rock and motherhood.

Hi there Deap Vally, how are you?

Good. Currently on tour with Garbage and Blondie, and Shirley and Debbie are complete legends.  And also so down to earth and cool.

Julie, how is your daughter Mira? Has she been a big part of your touring entourage?

Mira is basically the star of the tour.  She's friends with everyone, she loves watching from side stage, and she's in love with her Auntie Shirley and Auntie Debbie and Uncle Butch (which she pronounces 'Bush').

How has festival season treated you so far?

Pretty good. We played an amazing one in France called Musilac on a lake in the French Alps. That's what festival season is all about.

Your music is very riff heavy - what are some of your favourite riffs from throughout the years?

Beck 'Devil's Haircut'

Jimi Hendrix- every time he touched a guitar

Led Zeppelin 'Kashmir'

Band of Skulls 'I Feel Like Ten Men'

Pond 'Whatever Happened to the Million Head Collide?'

Black Sabbath 'Paranoid'

Rage Against the Machine 'Bulls on Parade'

QOTSA 'Keep Your Eyes Peeled'

Failure 'Heliotropic'

It’s widely documented that a very small percentage of female acts are on the bill at festivals across the UK - how frustrating is that? Is it the same in the US?

Well there aren't enough to begin with, and then they don't progress as far for whatever reason.  It's more the rock festivals that are blowing it in this regard. There are female rock acts out there who RULE. Find them.

Also-- everyone needs to get with the new marketing reality that there are females who rock hard, and there are rock fans who will love them.  No more of this girls ghetto in rock, please.

You're currently playing shows with Blondie and Garbage - talk to us about the influence of Debbie Harry and Shirley Manson on you guys? What is it like spending time with them?

They are the most genuine and warm women.  They kick so much ass.  There's pretty much no one as cool as Debbie Harry.  When Blondie plays you start to realize that every single song was a huge hit and it's staggering. Clem Burke is a MONSTER on the drums, by the way.

We will miss everyone so much when this tour is over.

Do you find you make a good impression on festival crowds who may have not seen you before, because you put on such a good show?

We certainly try.  

I think a lot of people have forgotten how exhilarating and inspiring a live performance can be, and we are always trying to reinvigorate that, to channel and transmit righteous rock and roll energy.

What is the most memorable rock and roll moment you have experienced at a festival?

Any truly accurate answer to this question would involve bodily functions, so I will spare the reader.

What was the first festival you played together? Did it go well?

Technically it was probably All 'Merican Weekend 2011.  A diy dive bar festival my (now) husband was putting on in the Desert.

Our first really big festival I believe was Hard Rock Calling in Hyde Park and it was a dream.  I met Jimmy Page, we heard Soundgarden playing Black Days as we drove away. Iggy Pop played.  Just legendary all around, and in good company.

You’re playing highly esteemed festivals Reading and Leeds this August - what have your experiences of English festivals been like in the past?

Great. God bless a country that still values good old rock and roll.  We need more of those in this world.

Deap Vally are playing at Reading Festival and Leeds Festival this August bank holiday, find Leeds Festival tickets below. 

Tickets are no longer available for this event

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