Motown and Garbage live “Happy Ever After”: An interview with Brooklyn’s own LoveCryme
SFX sits down with LoveCryme, a synth-driven indie pop/rock band fresh out of Brooklyn, for their very first interview. We met at Cake Shop, a music venue on Ludlow (bakeries also seem to be a running theme here), on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Awaiting my arrival was the LoveCryme duo: drummer Jonny Couch, a punk-rock influenced man about town, and vocalist Ljuba Castot, a blonde Danish beauty with a sensibility reminiscent of an early 90s Chloë Sevigny. They eagerly discussed with me the beginning of LoveCryme, their debut single and video, and their future plans.
Javey (of SFX Events, J): Thanks for meeting with me today. Tell me a little bit about how LoveCryme got started.
Jonny Couch (of LoveCryme, JC): We met in Brooklyn. I was at a bar, a little tipsy, and I saw this stunning girl across the room. We talked and it turned out that we were both songwriters and immediately went into discussing the possibility of collaborating. We ended up doing some songwriting together, and it was a good fit.
Ljuba Castot (of LoveCryme, L): We’ve been in this writing process since 2011, mostly at my place. We kept writing and rewriting, and pretty much lived in the studio for a couple months in 2012, and we’re working on releasing an album soon. We’re really excited about the SFX showcase as well.
J: The SFX platform is definitely a great crowd. Everyone from hipsters, punks, cybergoths.
JC: That’s what we want. We definitely want to play for freaks, punks, all of the above.
L: Cybergoths. I definitely should meet some cybergoths. All these interesting labels!
J: So how did LoveCryme develop conceptually? What are some of your influences?
JC: Well, she and I have totally different backgrounds, and I think that’s what makes it so interesting. We came from completely different worlds and decided to go ahead and write songs together anyway.
L: Jonny used to be in a punk rock band. Garage rock, punk rock for 10 years. And when I was a teenager I was in an R&B girl group in Denmark.
J: Have you found that these influences blend in a certain way?
JC: One of the things that works is that—even though I’m from a punk background—one of my main influences, whether writing for punk or working for LoveCryme, is motown. It’s a really universal, influential sound driven by writing and melody. It works in almost any format, no matter what kind of band it is.
J: That’s definitely not something I would have expected, having heard the song “Happy Ever After,” which is very synth driven, kind of pop-industrial. How has the motown influence been incorporated into your sound?
L: It was very apparent when we first started writing. The different riffs that Jonny would come up with and the way that our melodies would bounce off one another. We didn’t really set out to do anything in particular or make any certain kind of sound—we just started writing and the music took shape organically. Then our producer, Kiyanu Kim, came into the picture, and he was a huge part of our development sonically. He and Jonny go way back, used to be in a band together in high school.
JC: Even though Ljuba and I come from different songwriting backgrounds, we have a similar soulfulness in our songwriting that helped us work together, and motown is a big part of that. The band Garbage is also a really big influence for us.
J: I can definitely hear the Garbage influence. I love a lot of the synths in “Happy Ever After,” it’s a really relevant sound. Are you guys currently working with any labels or publishers?
L: We’re just working independently right now.
JC: We also have some arrangements with BMI so there are a lot of avenues that we can explore. We just finished the album, hot off the press, and right now we’re focused on performing.
J: I also love your video for “Happy Ever After.” It has a really great visual concept.
JC: Thanks. We worked with director Tawd B. Dorenfeld out of L.A., and we are really happy with the finished product. We just finished the video and released it for a feature on ReverbNation. We’re also getting a DVD of it and hope to premiere it at the SFX party prior to our show.
J: So what are some of your other upcoming shows?
L: Right after SFX, we’re going to Montauk Music Festival, which we’re really excited about.
JC: Including SFX, we’re playing five shows in four days, most of them at the festival. After Montauk, we’re doing Bushwick Open Studios. And we’re going to Chigago and Detroit.
J: What is your live setup like? What sections do you guys play live?
JC: Well, I’m the drummer and of course Ljuba is the vocalist. I do some backup vocals, too. We also have a bass player, and guitar and keyboard in our songs as well. We perform in a lot of different formats—with just the two of us, or with a group depending on the venue, the location, and our schedules.
J: What kind of work do you guys do other than music?
L: I’m a dancer, and I’ve been doing that since moving here in 2004.
JC: Phone sex operator. No, just kidding. I do a little bit of everything. Whatever it takes to hustle.
J: You guys are based in New York. Where do you guys normally play?
JC: Well, we’ve only had a few shows so far, mostly in Brooklyn. This week’s SFX will be our Manhattan debut!
L: Such a huge deal for us. We’re a pretty new band.
J: What’s your favorite part of New York? What keeps you from being like “Fuck this, I’m moving back to Ohio or wherever”?
JC: Nothing really matches the energy of New York. It’s really fun to go to other cities and explore and play shows there, but nothing excites me like New York. I used to live in L.A.—I liked it, and I think it gets a bad rap sometimes. It’s very relaxing, but almost too relaxing. And you have to drive everywhere…
L: I think it’s just something you know. You come to New York and you just know that you need to be here until it’s time to be somewhere else. I love to surround myself with all different sorts of people all the time, and there’s no better place for that.
J: What parts of New York do you like to frequent?
JC: Well, I live in Bushwick near Myrtle-Broadway. There’s a really cool new venue there called Bizarre that’s been really great to us. We did a show there… and a lot of drinking there. And we shot our album cover there, actually.
J: Will you be selling copies of the album at your show?
JC: The album itself is a self-titled EP. We’re not doing our album release until June, and we’re waiting until it’s available on iTunes before selling it physically.
L: And we’re releasing “Happy Ever After” as a digital single first. The EP also has a great Chew Fu remix of our song “High Heels” as bonus track.
Jonny was kind enough to give me a *super-special* promo copy of the LoveCryme EP, and let me say without revealing too much that it’s pretty amazing, my favorite track being the 80s inspired “Boys From My Block.” Fans of Garbage, Goldfrapp, and Little Boots will not be disappointed. Be sure to check them out this Wednesday, May 15th, at The SFX Party (R Bar at 218 Bowery) and through the week at Montauk Music Festival.
By Javey Ecchi