SadGirl is a slowcore indie rock act from Los Angeles, whose lo-fi music is recorded using old-time recording techniques. It has a timelessness, at one level being rooted in the past but at another through the abiding nature of its themes being totally contemporary.

First formed in 2014, SadGirl, a trio, which consists of guitarist/vocalist Misha Lindes, drummer David Ruiz and bassist Dakota Peterson, has released largely on vinyl and cassette a spate of singles and EPS, each one with an emphasis on artistic design and packaging. Lindes' lyrics have a strong narrative flow, often capturing with minimal words whole characters and situations.

They have just released their debut album, 'Water', on Suicide Squeeze Records, which takes much of its inspiration from their native city.

In one of his first British interviews, Misha Lindes spoke to Pennyblackmusic about 'Water'.

PB: You have said in a previous interview that “I don’t think that you have to feel the need to fit into a particular style or genre in the music you’re making or whatever you’re doing creatively.” Music critics have had a lot of trouble putting SadGirl into a neat category. You have been described as a 50’ pop act, 70’s-influenced, an Americana act and surf punks, and drawn comparisons with the Beach Boys, Link Wray, Dick Dale and the ‘Twin Peaks’ soundtrack. Is that something which pleases you?

ML: It doesn't necessarily please me, but it definitely doesn't bother me either. It seems like it makes things a lot easier for listeners and critics to fit into a specific category, but that's not how I make music. I digest what interests me, and hopefully, what comes out is an amalgam of those influences.

PB: You have been together five years and released eight previous EPs and singles. Why has it taken so long for this album to come out?

ML: I initially wasn’t interested in releasing a full-length record. I’m much more interested in songs and singles. EPs provide a nice concise amount of tracks that can be well curated and cohesive. Also nowadays it seems like singles are becoming much more important again. With this record, it seemed like the next logical step to progress forward with the band and get some extra reach on these songs. But we’ll see what happens next! Maybe this will be the only 'Full Length' we release. Who knows!

PB: ‘Water’ is something that we all need, yet the band was formed on the edge of the desert in Los Angeles. Characters turn out not to be what they seem. One of the album’s main themes is about feeling alienated, yet the need also for solitude and to be alone. Romances on it promise a lot, but become unfulfilling or turn out to be with the wrong person. The final title track reflects on how once what was important to us may not always be so. It seems to be an album that thrives on contrasts. Do you think that is a fair assessment?

ML: Yes, absolutely. I think all these songs are about the cognitive dissonance I face on a day-to-day basis. When you’re continually trying to progress and evolve, it creates conflict, and I think this record reflects that.

PB: It also seems to be an album about what is beneath the surface, the underlying melancholy and darkness that often lies behind sunny facades. Do you think that is true? How much of an influence has living Los Angeles had on that?

ML: Definitely - LA is a strange place with layers of facades and interlocking scenes. There is so much disparity here. You have SOHO house and Warner Brothers Music literally feet away from skid row where people are living in the streets and shooting up right out in the open. It's a dark, strange place but it’s also a tropical paradise.

PB: Each vocal track on the album tells a story, yet there are also three instrumentals. Their titles –‘Hazelnut Coffee’, ‘Mulholland’ and ‘Avalon’ – implies that they are stories as well. Do you think that is true? If so, what do you see them as being about?

ML: Each instrumental is sort of like a cue from a fictional movie scene. I don’t exactly have a specific narrative in mind for each one, but they are for sure cinematic. I love the idea of putting on some headphones and seeing a story play out in your head.

PB: ‘Water’ was recorded over two years in a variety of studios and band members’ living rooms, yet it doesn’t seem in any way disjointed or seamless. How did you achieve that?

ML: There is a certain lo-fi sonic aesthetic that super resonates with me. I love that a lot of the most iconic songs of the past aren't necessarily recorded that "well" but no one cares. There is such a stress on doing this the "right way" or like making things sound super clear and audible, but I don't think that's the point of making music, or it at least doesn't have to be.

That kind of mentality is consistent in my recording process, regardless of where I record or what tools or equipment I use. It's the idiosyncrasies and the human element that make stuff feel real and genuine to me. I love it when you're listening to a song, and you notice like a bum note or a drummer clicking his sticks or someone saying something at the end of the track, it puts you right there in the room with the musicians.

PB: Many of your previous EPs and singles have come out on limited edition cassettes and coloured vinyl, and while ‘Water’ has been released on CD it has also come out on blue vinyl. Is product something that is important to SadGirl?

ML: Creating a visual world that is cohesive with the music is super important to me. I have a background in graphic design and have been making visual art for as long as I’ve made music, so using the band as a vehicle or outlet for all of those interests is an incredibly rewarding experience.

It also totally enriches the music listening experience - if you can create a visual world for the music to exist in and tangible objects to interact with and touch, it can be a really personal thing. So much music and art are exclusively experienced digitally, it’s a really nice thing to be able to handle and feel the music as well. There is a ritual element when playing a record or a cassette that helps to make a lasting impression on the listening experience.

PB: The video for ‘Chlorine’ is stunning. The girl who plays Chlorine is really good and captures her personality really well, this single-minded girl who can’t really be trusted. Who is she? How much influence did the band have on the storyline for that video?

ML: When I wrote the song, I always had an idea of a narrative with two characters - Chlorine and her lover. Chlorine was always a queen of the trailer park, and the song was about her big dreams and ensnaring a hapless lover. When I pitched the song to the director (Nathan Castiel) and my visual aesthetic idea of the world the characters existed in he totally got it. We met quite a few times and discussed plot ideas and important beats in the story before locking in the final outline.

PB: Do you hope to tour the UK?

ML: Yes!!! I’ve wanted to get the band to the UK for so long, and we’re hoping to make it out there in the fall.

PB: What other plans do SadGirl have for the immediate future?

ML: We’re just going to keep playing and making music and videos and art.

PB: Thank you.

Photos by James Michael Suarez

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