“I think people could look at us and make one assumption, and then when they see us play, that assumption will be shattered,” says Julie Edwards, Deap Vally’s drummer. “And that’s the beauty of it.”
Indeed there are plenty of assumptions tomake about a female duo who on the surface of things are all wild hair, short shorts and lip-curling attitude. But this would not prepare for the sheer hurtling power of their music; the kind of inextinguishable ferocity that cannot be faked or fluked or phoneyed, that can only be hauled up from the guts.
Edwards met her band mate and co-conspirato rLindsey Troy in the unlikely environs of a crochet class in Los Angeles’s Atwater Village. Edwards was teaching; Troy her new student. “Lindsey learned crochet really fast,” Edwards recalls, “she had good eye-hand co-ordination which was a good sign. But while we crocheted we bonded, and talked about our struggles as artists – how frustrated we were.”
At the time, Edwards was in another duo, the Pity Party, while Troy was performing solo, each somehow orbiting one another as they played different circuits in LA. Both felt unsatisfied — Troy quietly plotting her solo world domination, while Edwards, feeling burnt-out, was contemplating a return to college to study psychology. But following that first fateful meeting their plans began to shift.
We kind of stalked each other online after that a little bit,” is how Edwards explains it. “I was really impressed byher,” adds Troy. “I thought she was really cool. You know, like Cool with a capital C.”
The idea of jamming together seemed anatural one, and at that first session Edwards brought in a bassist friend tomake up a three-piece all-female band they jokingly named God’s Cuntry. Butwith the bassist away on tour thereafter it was just Edwards and Troy — aguitar and a drumkit and two wild voices.
“I knew before we even went in to that firstjam it would be special,” says Troy. “I could feel it. And I was happy being atwo-piece. A big part of DeapVally is that thereare limitations, and we enjoy those limitations, but at the same time withinthose confines having no limitations. We like to push boundaries.”
It is when they play that they say they feelfreest — ignited by the roar and the pure physicality of it. “I havealways wanted to make heavy music,” says Edwards. They speak of their soul andgospel and punk influences, of R’n’B vocal melodies and Blues riffs meeting“powerful dark dissonant Sabbath-esque chord progressions and the spirit ofrock ‘n’ roll.” They talk of the “heavy” sensation of fingers stumbling on anew riff, arms beating drum-skins. “It’s just a great release,” says Edwards.“It’s very freeing.”
They first played live in the spring of2011, first at the Silverlake Lounge and then at the Hotel Café, where MarilynManson pushed his way to the front row and heckled them as they took to thestage. After the show the first thing he said to them was, “Can I be yourgroupie?”
That so many eyes and so much attentionlingers on their bodies and their attire does not ruffle them. "Sex is abig part of the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll," says Troy. Look at all the greatrockers, the power they had over the crowd. Sexuality is power, and we don’twant to be a neutered band; we like embracing our sexuality. It’s a part of ourmusic, and being women is a big part of it, our lyrics are very much from ourexperience. We’re very much women.”
Certainly many of the songs on this recordare from a powerfully female perspective — from dealing with sleazy men in Creep Life to the glorious two-fingereddefiance ofGonna Make My Own Money.“That song is kind of literal,” admits Troy. “My Dad was always saying ‘You’regonna have to marry a rich man!’” Edwards nods. “And my Dad would be like ’Whenare you going to meet a nice dentist?’” It is a song, Troy explains, that isabout “people underestimating your ability to do things as women and feelinglike ‘fuck you I’m going to do this and prove you all wrong!’ It’s that spiritof independence and achievement.”
But there are gentler songs here too, songsabout relationship dynamics and heartbreak, as well as a number called Procreate, which was, Edwards elaborates,“an idea Lindsey had, about wanting a guy so much that you want to have theirbaby. That weird lust that exists, and which I totally relate to, but a lot ofpeople don’t write about, because maybe writing about babies is kind of weird.A man wouldn’t write that song, and if they did it would be a little bitdifferent. It would be more like ‘I wanna knock you up so you stay home andyou’re mine forever.’”
They were drawn to each other, they say, bya mutual unapologeticness, by the fact that they are both, by their owndefinition, socially aggressive women. “I was always very drawn to femaleperformers who were very loud and outspoken and flamboyant,” says Troy. “And Ifeel like with DeapVally we areunstoppable – we are so driven, full throttle, it’s undeniable. We reallybelieve in what we represent as a band. And what we represent I feel is likepost-post-post feminism.”
By their nature, they say, what they do ispolitical — “In that we’re women,” Troy says, “and we play this type ofheavy rock music, not afraid to let it all hang out,” she says proudly. Edwards adds, “So many women masculinisethemselves and play their femininity down, and something Lindsey and I felt isthat we have never wanted to do that. I’ve been playing drums in tiny shortsfor as long as I’ve been playing drums.”
Certainly, short shorts and their breed ofvisceral, heart-churning rock ‘n’ roll is quite an arresting combination. “Idon’t know what image of femininity we’re trying to fulfill,” Edwards says,“and maybe we’re creating a new one: we’re badass but we’re not mean-spiritedand angry. We just really, really love heavy music.”
“We believe,” says Troy, “in bringing trulylive music back.” Edwards nods. “And we believe in the rock ‘n’ rollrevolution, bringing guitar-based rock ‘n’ roll back to the mainstream. We loveLed Zeppelin —they’re our heroes. Because that’s a band that played stadiums,didn’t have a safety net of a pre-recorded back-up tape, they didn’t record toa click, and they were really, really sexy and really commanding. And why can’tthat happen again? “
Deap Vally’s Debut Album will be released in 2013.