The boys from Harlem Shakes have been busy touring in order to support their debut album “Technicolor Health”. They made room in their schedule to answer some questions I had. Specifically Kendrick helped answer the questions on behalf of the band! Thanks again Kendrick! (and thank you Jose for communicating with me!).
I am still new on conducting interviews. I have done it via email, so that should explain why there isn’t any “conversing” going on here. But overall I thought it went well! Well, here we go:
WAWSTSF: What is the background of the name Harlem Shakes?
Kendrick: It’s got a catchy sound and an eery underpinning, sort of like our hearts.
WAWSTSF: What major influences made you go out and make music/influenced your songs?
Kendrick: We each have about 10 bands that we can name that we feel influenced the songs (Randy Newman, Cee-Lo, Van Morrison, The Allman Brothers, Blur, The Byrds, etc.). However, I think it’s more honest to admit a deeper outpouring came from 90s songs we grew up listening to, 70s songs we grew up listening to our parents listening to, and hip hop and reggaeton music thumping from thin-windowed cars and blown-out boomboxes that we can’t help but listen to walking down the street in New York that we had little conscious control over.
WAWSTSF: Tell me about the recording process for your guys debut album “Technicolor Health”?
Kendrick: This is the first recording we really poured ourselves into, the first one where we fought entropy to make the feelings come from the sounds, not just the sounds come from the feelings. Our producer Chris Zane was a big part of this record, being patient enough to let us make 1000 misteps along the way to falling in love with the product. There’s a lot of love and optimism in response to some difficult circumstances that went into this record.
WAWSTSF: What is your favorite song that you have written so far?
Kendrick: My favorite song is Natural Man. We can’t even rehearse the darn thing more than once a practice because it saps all the serotonin from our collective brain. It’s like the tylenol with the “e” on it that we see happy people take at dance parties. Also, it mentions both Zima and 1998, which are two of my favorite people.
WAWSTSF: What are your expectations for the album? Do critics reviews such as pitchfork go through your mind when your making music?
Kendrick: Didn’t a man once ask some old-timey guy if the bird in his hand was alive or dead, knowing he could squeeze the little guy and make a fool out of him no matter what he said? It’ll do well? It’ll do poorly? I love Pitchfork? I hate Pitchfork? I hope people will find that it admits its time and place but it’s also walking uphill anyway. I hope people will react to its constructive escapism, or rather, its bright realism. But, you know, I can imagine people disliking it, which I respect. That’s an opportunity to learn and discuss, which I think is just as important as praise.*
*We reserve full rights to prank call anyone who openly says anything but awesome stuff about our record.
WAWSTSF: I saw you toured with big named artists such as Arctic Monkeys, Deerhoof, and Vampire Weekend. What was that like? Have any funny/interesting stories?
Kendrick: We’ve learned so much from the bands we’ve toured with. Can I say Thank You to them here? Deerhoof was like the magic-trick-wielding uncle who always made us laugh. They were our first tour and will probably always be our favorite. They showed us how being respectful and receptive can coincide with being inventive and subversive. The Arctic Monkeys made us nostalgic for being a couple years younger, Vampire Weekend are friends that we consider all-around pros who pushed us artistically, Tokyo police Club surpassed Wolverine as the #1 reason to love Canada, and Tapes n’ Tapes made us love video games again! Oh, and what’s UUUUUP, Ladyhawk, Caural, Busdriver, and Ruby Coast!
WAWSTSF: What is your opinion on blogs and the way artists are found now days?
Kendrick: Opening the discussion as wide as possible is always a good thing. More ideas! There’s a lot of excellent music that wouldn’t have been heard that’s being heard all around the world, which is rad, but there are a lot of false starts and flip-flops that the blog diffusion created. It’s hard getting used to “authority” being spread out, so there are some hiccups along the way with people jockeying for authority, judging who has creedence, etc. All the crazies are allowed into the room, which I like. But I think I might be a crazy, so I’m biased.Â Squirrels!
WAWSTSF: What records are you guys spinning right now?
Kendrick: Here We Go Magic, Shilpa Ray and her Happy Hookers, Born Ruffians, Passion Pit, Titus Andronicus, Suckers, Arms, Air Waves, Phoenix, Dawn Landes, and Harry Belafonte.
[mp3] : Harlem Shakes – Natural Man
[mp3] : Harlem Shakes – Niagara Falls