SF's Young Prisms Talk Their New Album "In Between," and On-Tour Survival Skills
By now, you’ve had a chance for Young Prisms’ new album In Between to sink in a bit. So you love the jangly, scratchy guitars. Officials call it shoegaze, but let’s just agree that this sophisticated sophomore effort is just plain pretty. Now what? Well, the city does it again, gifting us with an opportunity to see another fine local band in the flesh, currently on tour with Dum Dum Girls, Tuesday at Slim’s.
You can read about the band’s harrowing experience of being stranded at London’s Heathrow Airport on Kanine Record’s website. They nearly missed Christmas, got by eating “crappy bagels”, but took in a young boy’s mini-violin concerto that quelled their cranky traveler’s nerves. Singer Stefanie Hodapp says she learned some survival skills (besides the practicality of bathing in a public restroom during crisis) in those five days. It seems the band has been able to apply their new thicker skin even in their sound.
Pitchfork compared your voice to Hope Sandoval’s (Mazzy Star). I hear the resemblance. Are 90s acts major points of reference for you? Shoegaze is more of an 80s thing. Maybe you're aiming for 1989?
Hope Sandoval's vocals can only be Hope Sandoval's vocals. Anyone that gets a Mazzy Starr reference is either guilty of ripping her off or is getting recognition for sharing similar elements. The voice you hear on "Four Hours (Away)" is Ashley Thomas. To me, Ashley's voice sounds sultry and romantic, like Sandoval's. They hit the same spot, just in different ways.
My friend’s band is starting to get gigs, recently playing at an “art venue” in L.A. The audience wasn’t exactly feeling them. Bro-ish types were pretending to swim on the floor while wearing empty 12-pack beer cartons over their heads throughout their set. Have you had any nightmare performances?
I do get nervous and overwhelmed, especially when the crowd feels quiet and doesn't move much. I get a kick out of a small, rowdy crowd that's determined to have a good time. One time a boy in Salt Lake City waved me over during a set. Awkwardly not knowing how to respond, I went over to see what his deal was and all of a sudden he was trying to kiss me. It was embarrassing, but made for a funny experience to remember. Bros mixed with boos can be very entertaining. Embrace it.
Touring Europe and releasing records is quite an accomplishment. Who supported your efforts? What’s been discouraging?
There's nothing more exciting for a new band than finding out that someone actually wants to put out your record. As soon as we got our first release with Mexican Summer, we were absolutely pumped and determined to work hard to make our dreams come true. We've always supported ourselves by supporting each other. Travelling to some faraway place only to play for two people (one of which was asleep at a table) is discouraging, but nothing keeps us from continuing on.
Since you’re local, which SF neighborhood do you identify with most? What do you like about it and where do you like to see live music?
I guess the Mission District. It is my home and I'm usually too broke to leave it. As far as Mission venues go, Engine Works is the most fun, but my favorite venue is actually not in my neighborhood—Great American Music Hall is stunning.
(She goes on to tell me her favorite shop is Painted Bird and that El Metate has the best Mexican food. And this bit of dessert advice: Enjoying a slice of banana cream pie with a “great cup of coffee” at Mission Pie. All good tastes.)
With Dum Dum Girls and Tamaryn. Tuesday, May 22nd at Slim’s, 333 7th Street, San Francisco 415-255-0333. Doors at 7 pm. $17