Taking Flight: Deap Vally


By Caitlin White

Deap Vally blitz the idea of girl band out of your mind with the first blast from Lindsey Troy’s electric guitar. She brandishes the instrument with same familiarity that most blondes with blunt cut bangs handle a hairbrush, and her craggy voice is more Robert Plant than Cyndi Lauper. But Troy is only half the story. It’s the free-for-all drumming from Julie Edwards that cements the notion, that this show will be all rock. The drummer’s glittery, showgirl-inspired outfit and her auburn curls shake as she wails on her kit with as fearless abandon.

“I don’t know why all women wouldn’t want to just rock really hard, play heavy and get crazy,” Edwards muses before the duo play an exclusive Steve Madden sponsored industry show. “To us it seems like a very natural thing to do. Women letting loose—it never happens. You can talk about incredible female performers right now, like (Lady) Gaga, but still it’s all choreographed. Maybe it’s shameful for women to fully express themselves, because it’s private.”

“I don’t know why all women wouldn’t want to just rock really hard, play heavy and get crazy. To us it seems like a very natural thing to do. Women letting loose—it never happens.”

Watching Deap Vally play does feel a little bit like watching something private. Their stage presence is compellingly unfettered. First, there’s the fact that they’re just a duo—at times it seems impossible that the walls of sound they create are emanating from two girls in cut-off shorts and fringed bra crop tops. Then there’s the easy way they feed off each other’s energy, improvising as though they are alone somewhere jamming.

“I think it would be impure if there was a guy in the group—because that’s not what this is about. This is about a woman’s point of view. This is truly about what we’re creating and what we believe as women working in this genre, in this form,” Edwards said.

The now infamous story of how the two met—through a crocheting class in L.A.’s Silver Lake neighborhood—is the final, feminine stitch in a story about two blues-loving women rockers who work in a historically male-dominated genre. After their initial meeting, Edwards and Troy quickly felt a strong bond of friendship, which translated into a musical partnership shortly after that.

“We’re in our own world, we’re creating it. We don’t even have to worry about being women, because we’re just women together,” Edwards said. “We’re not even thinking about it really. I think that’s what creates the ideal world that we operate in and create in, and feel free to be ourselves in.”

It’s this freedom that flows through their music and between the two of them, recalling the likes of Pat Benatar, Stevie Nicks and PJ Harvey. Intense but imbued with vulnerability and introspection, their initial EP Get Deap! offers a brief survey of their sound—Troy brings colossal guitar noise and Edwards’ drumming refuses to stay in the background. Their dynamic is an interesting one, sans bass Troy’s guitar hooks take on new roles and the drums really are half the sound.

The EP is just a teaser for their full-length, Sistrionix, out this September. Edwards assures that the album will be more of the same hard-rocking sound they’ve already established, but that it gets personal too. The title is a play on the words “sister” and “histrionics”—a fitting combination.

“It’s an unapologetic rock and roll journey through advocating for ourselves, being aggressive, confrontational, but also being full of longing. It’s epic, it has to be epic, because that’s what rock and roll is. It addresses larger issues that we think should be in place down to our own personal love and loss issues. I think it’s got some surprises on it.”

Critics say an all girl rock and roll band is a concept that feels like a syrupy shtick or a chintzy take on a category overrun with male stars. But Deap Vally isn’t a girl band—it’s rock and roll band. Even so, the duo are definitely treading new ground for the sphere.

“We’re not trying to be men, we can’t be men. We have too much butt and too much hair and too much boobs and too much anything to be men. We love being women, being girls and doing it.”

“We’re not trying to be men, we can’t be men,” Edwards said. “We have too much butt and too much hair and too much boobs and too much anything to be men. We love being women, being girls and doing it.”

Lindsey’s on vocal rest—that voice doesn’t come for nothing—but she types out her take on the best friend necklaces the two wear for every show. Two pieces of one heart, Julie wears the “Deap” half and Lindsey has “Vally.”

“This is a soothing thing that was popular when we were young,” she writes. “The girly, nostalgic best friend necklace concept. We like to bring girliness to rock and roll.”

Their subject matter certainly reflects this tendency. “Walk of Shame” addresses the frowned-upon trek that a disheveled woman must take after an unexpected night away from home. But there’s no Lana Del Rey simpering here, none of Katy Perry’s bubblegum. Deap Vally garner comparisons to The Black Keys and Jack White more often than even their obvious female predecessors, the sister-driven duo of Heart.

“Gonna Make My Own Money” rub blues and grit in the wound left from being counseled to marry rich. Another track, “End of the World” is almost a folk song in lyrical content, calling for brotherly love and an end to hate, while its sonic structure is akin to Zeppelin.

With the reckless abandon of Thelma & Louise and the musical skill of any of their male counterparts, Deap Vally are bringing femininity to rock and roll. Best friend necklaces and cut-offs never looked so grown up—let the girliness abound, it’s undeniably here to stay. In 2013, there’s no need for femininity and rock and roll to fight, then again, in this genre a little savagery never hurts.

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