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Interview with Loquat

A lot's happened since SF pop darlings Loquat dazzled us with their critically acclaimed debut, It's Yours To Keep in 2005.  For one, lead singer Kylee Swenson (whose ethereal, lullabye voice is reminiscent of Aime Mann and Feist, only less drone-y) and bassist Anthony Gordon got hitched. But there were also hardships - family deaths, an apartment fire and lost jobs - enough to bring the band to the brink of a break-up.  Fortunately for us, Loquat weathered the storm and used all the material for what they call their most inspired album yet,  Secrets of the Sea, which was released last week.  We caught up with Swenson and Gordon from their East Coast Tour, where they're set to play the CMJ Festival in New York on the 24th.   They're returning to the Bay to play a much-anticipated Hometown CD Release Party at Bottom of the Hill on November 8.  Here's what they had to say about the new album, their Treasure Island Music Festival performance and the San Francisco music scene.



So why have we been waiting so long for this wonderful new album?

Kylee Swenson: Quite a  few things rocked the boat after we released It’s Yours to Keep. My grandfather and great uncle (both of whom I was really close to) died,  a few of our close friends’ parents and a couple close friends died,  Christopher’s apartment burned down, and he lost his job. With all the  stresses of life, we almost had a couple band meltdowns and were ready  to run off in different directions, screaming. But we kept it  together, and I’m glad we did because this was probably our most  inspired album we've made.

What's it like playing in a band together now that you're married?

Anthony Gordon: It can extremely difficult at times, but it's also  incredibly rewarding to make music with someone you love. Kylee and I don't play a lot of music at home together—we  pretty much save it for the studio.

Talk about the new album and working with SF studio Talking House. I  love that there's always a different vibe with your songs.

Anthony Gordon: There are a lot of different sorts of styles on the record because  we all love a lot of different styles of music. On "Sit Sideways," we  did stumble onto that Niles Rogers, Duran Duran kind of pop-funk, but also, that song is about our friend’s Dad passing away and then  boating and drinking and doing drugs to cope with the loss. On "These  Kinds of Friends," we sort of channeled a lonesome, Roy Orbison kind of vibe—and that song is about preferring the company of animals to  people. Whenever we write a tune that seems to be stylized, we  generally have a subtext in the lyrics that completely flip the  context. Our style might be described as happy-sounding songs with sad lyrics (or visa versa).

Kylee Swenson: Anthony mentions the juxtaposition between the happy-sounding  music and sad lyrics, but sometimes the music inspires the lyrics or  vice versa. For example, when Earl gave me the demo for “Who Can Even  Remember?”, the bridge part had this far-off, watery Led Zeppelin feel  to it, and it made me think about how my grandfather and great uncle  were “off the pier and rowing.” That’s the image that the music  conjured in my mind because it was on my mind that the elder  generation was leaving us, and I had to step up as next in line. I was  no longer part of the youngest generation anymore, and I needed to  think about what I really wanted to do with the rest of my life. Wow,  I’m starting to think our next CD should be a comedy album.

Your music is organic and deceptively natural, because people upon first listen might not realize that you play all your own instruments.  How would you describe your sound?

Anthony Gordon: We've always thought of our sound as the marriage of organic and  electronic music. I tell friends it's like guitar pop, but from the  future. There are too many amazing sounds that exist in the electronic  world to deny ourselves that creative element, but we're all physical  players and our music—even the most electronic stuff—is performance and not programming. Our keyboardist Ryan Manley can really play his  ass off with tons of passion and skill, but he can also be crafty and subtle, which is what I think we're really aiming for.

You recently played the TI Fest... main stage no less. What was that  experience like? And do you prefer festivals to intimate venues?

Kylee Swenson: I’ve had a few opportunities to watch my knees knock in fear  backstage, and Treasure Island Festival was a big one for us. I was  definitely nervous, but we did have an amazing time. My only complaint  was that when I looked up after the intro of our song “Time Bomb,” my  mic stand had fallen down and was pointing at my stomach. Bad mic stand!

What do you think about San Francisco becoming a player in the  festival circuit (Outside Lands, TI Fest, etc)?

Anthony Gordon: It's about time. And a huge amount of credit for making these  awesome festivals happen here is Another Planet Entertainment. San  Francisco is, in my humble opinion, the most beautiful, creative, and  open-minded city in America. People here aren't so genre oriented to  their musical tastes, which I think has played a huge role in how our  sound has developed, as well. We know a San Francisco audience will  accept a party jam as readily as they will a maudlin, acoustic ballad.  - Jason Jurgens from The Owl Mag