Sloppy Jane Debuts New Single "Mindy", Talks about the Move to New York, the Upcoming Album, and More
We jumped at the chance to speak with Haley Dahl when she let us know that Sloppy Jane had a new single to debut in addition to a September 6 Knitting Factory show in the band's newly-adopted home of New York. Through a whirlwind series of phone and e-mail conversations, Haley updated us on the brand new single "Mindy", the upcoming Willow album, live shows, New York life, and more.
Bobby Weirdo: So you’re in New York now, right? Where?
Haley Dahl: I live in the basement of the New Jersey - P.F. Chang's with 14 other people.
BW: Is it a communal space?
HD: Yeah, there are two floors and a basement, with a bathroom and kitchen per floor.
BW: And everyone that lives there does something creative?
HD: I love them, it’s a gas. It’s definitely a crew. A lot of fancy haircuts. It’s definitely a lot of hair. A lot of fancy crew cuts. People at P.F. Chang's love it when the amp feeds back. Oh my god, what is that horrible noise coming from the basement????? It is a basement noise show. Haha.
BW: Did you know about your living set-up before you moved out there?
HD: It’s a beautiful story. Once upon a time, I met my childhood friend Anika at Burning Man when we were like ten years old (it was a different place then). Then, one day, we were fourteen in New York and got arrested together outside of a church on St. Marks Place. AND THEN one day we got in touch as adults and she was living in this huge P.F. Chang's basement in the heart of New Jersey and I begged her to include me. My favorite activity is to be included—something not everyone knows about me.
BW: As an artist, is your day-to-day stuff - like getting around and doing your work - harder there?
HD: Every head needs two legs underneath it to run run run to “success”. The legs that carry you in Los Angeles, wear sneakers that are made out of social voodoo and self-invention, and here they wear sneakers that are made out of feverish discipline. Either pair is impressive if you can get across the finish line, because no matter what shoes, it’s an Impressive Feet. You can have more than one pair, you can even wear one on each foot. But some fit better than others, do you gather my meaning? I’m very grateful for 8 a.m. band practices and three hours of well-earned sleep a night. I like the train because everybody is stuck with me.
BW: I feel like Los Angeles is in such a good place for music right now. When I hear people talk about New York, I hear them say things that suggest it’s pretty hipster and over. But then when I see what you’ve been up to since the move, it seems like you’re doing well out there. So I’m interested in hearing your take on that.
HD: If Brooklyn is hipster trash (which it is) then Los Angeles is a socialite wasteland that only exists in photographs (which it is). There’s a negative pull-quote for any city, but I don’t go anywhere for a scene. I go anywhere that is going to make me do what I do the best that I can. Also, consider the meaning of success; not every city subscribes to social media as a deity. There is great music here in a serious, serious way, and it does very well. Just because you can’t see it from there doesn’t mean it’s not happening. A lot of special work comes out of not having to bow to being Observed.
BW: How many members are in the band at this point?
HD: Eight! Hooray! Do you have a van we can tour in?
BW: Is it a pretty solid line-up, or does it change with every show?
HD: Every single show we add a new band member, and for every new band member I lose two hours of sleep per day. Of course I love you, but why do we have to label it? Can’t it just stay how it is? Baby, come on. Can’t I have it all? Just give me one more night.
BW: Sara [Cath] was going to move to New York, but I don’t think she has yet, right?
HD: Sara somehow is both my brother and my son forever. She still lives in LA and as far as I know plans to eventually end up in NY. Because time passes differently everywhere and remembering to drink water is so hard, the future is unclear! She was integral to the development of the sound, so she is involved forever. I hear her when I write. I’m so proud of her, and she’s gonna see the new lineup play in NY on September 6th because she’s visiting and I have never been more intimidated!
BW: You were just out here in Los Angeles mixing something. Was that Willow you were working on?
HD: Yeah, finishing mixing Willow.
BW: With Joel Jerome?
BW: So when you’re mixing like that, what’s the process? Are you sitting in a room with Joel, listening track by track?
HD: Months away from heavy listening let my ears sleep away the fatigue and I got to hear it all brand new again. It was easier to go through this time around, and it was a great joy hangin’ with my pal Joel.
BW: That must have been a real task, because it’s a great and ambitious album with the different genres, changes from section-to-section, and the stacked vocal harmonies.
HD: We really just had to make sure every piece had a little sonic home of its own to live in. There are so many insane ways to process things now, that I think it becomes less interesting the more you do to a song. There’s no tension, you can’t listen to it over and over and wonder how it was done, because the answer is always “a robot”. Mostly everything was kept how it was recorded, maybe give it a cup of coffee, but certainly no steroids, certainly it didn’t go under the knife. There were tedious parts due to the collage-like atmosphere of a lot of the songs. Drums were tedious, eight million vocal parts were tedious. But time flies when Joelle is talking smack. Also when I say tedious, I mean tedious for Joel. I sat and strummed a Cuatro and nitpicked until he eventually hit me in the face with a shovel and buried me in the Mojave. Surf’s Up!
BW: I think that album is going to be an important part of what Sloppy Jane is doing. Tracks like “Kitchen Store” incorporate the influence that children’s media has on your work in a way that past recordings of yours may not have, and gives a more complete picture of Sloppy Jane.
HD: Having a huge amount of music that no one has heard feels a lot like resenting people who keep driving past exits when you have to pee and you haven’t even told anyone. I hate it when people oversimplify what I’m doing or what I sound like based on what’s available, but how would anyone know any better? I’ll be so glad to put out this record. I’m gonna pee-pee in my pants.
BW: There was recently a digital re-release of Sure-Tuff. What’s the background to that?
HD: Penniback Records throw some of the most best shows in all of the world. They are THE VIBE. I wanted to finally cave in and put our old EP on Spotify because people kept asking, because I’m so famous, but being the ancient dinosaur of a man that I am, I sought out their advice on how to do that, logistically. And they offered to do it for me, and [said] that we could do it together. I love them.
BW: The last time we spoke officially, you asked everyone to put out thought vibes for you to be able to meet Marilyn Manson in 2017. Have you gotten any closer to that goal?
HD: You know, I DJ’d with the bassist Twiggy Ramirez on my birthday at The Friend Bar. That’s the closest I’ve come so far. I don’t think he knew I was a super big fan, but he was really cool to me, and I tried so hard to not expose myself as a psychopath. He gave me his number, I texted him, and he never texted me back and I never tried again because I’m so embarrassed.
BW: What kind of stuff do you play when you DJ?
HD: I’m a really terrible DJ. Last time I played "Somewhere Over The Rainbow", followed by the “Happy Birthday” song (five different versions), and then a Residents record in its entirety. Halfway through, the owner of the bar came up to me and told me I had to play actual songs. But I hate sonic or aesthetic cohesion and want everything to be in a constant state of dramatic shift.
BW: I think that’s an important thing that’s happening in music now, though. You mentioned streaming platforms, and I think that some of that genre-cohesion is going away.
HD: Really? I feel like it is worse than ever. I think that the webosphere is so polarizing and there are so many crazy specific “types of people” you can be, but you have to be one of them. People will keep trying to figure out which one you are. It’s ugly and limiting.
BW: How has your experience been with you New York shows? Do you like the kind of nights you’ve been playing and what bands you’ve been paired with?
HD: I think I’ll never have my way because my ideal show is to play with no other bands except for a little old man who reads Dr. Seuss books before our set and also afterwards. It is in a big fancy opera house, only it’s been abandoned and the audience is all teenagers who are just wrecking everything, except there is a high balcony where it is established high-brow fancy art gentlemen and ladies who recognize me as a genius. I’m like a toothpaste-flavored vodka in that I pair with anything as well as I would with anything else, which is not at all. But maybe worth trying. The shows have all been well-attended and well-received and the bands are good and I’m a happy camper anyway. I’m excited that my child bride, Yiwei Meng (Minty Boi), has moved back to the east coast to cultivate a better all ages scene. Also at my ideal show I think it would be 6 in the morning and all of Starbucks Coffee would be there.
BW: You’re releasing a single from Willow soon, right?
HD: We did on Wednesday! The song is called "Mindy". It’s the first one from the record that we recorded. The video was shot at my grandma’s house the week before I left for New York. Starring Ember Knight (the King of L.A., also my fiancé), John Ennis (has been in every TV show and commercial, is family), and Max Solomon (the most stylish person I know, he was my first boyfriend in high school. Absolutely the one that got away.) Sara Cath on drums and a guitar and some backup vocals! Cha Cha Cha!
BW: What’s the 2017, '18 game plan for Sloppy Jane?
HD: When I think about everything that I want to make happen, I feel like I’m going to throw up because I’m so dazzled, but also it’s a lot to do. There's this "Mindy" video, and we have another video currently in production for a track off the record called “La Cluster” (pronounced Lah-cluster not L.A. Cluster). I’d like to have the record out by February, but god only knows. In the meantime I have some plans for a single-run tape that we’re gonna put out that includes "Mindy", a new version of an old song ("Rhoda’s Revenge"), some interludes, an acoustic song, and a hilarious improvised track me and Ariel made like a year and a half ago off-the-cuff. I found 100 cassette tapes in the garbage can, so I’m just going to make them kind of as a snack for myself so I’m not hungry to jump the gun on releasing the full length before The Right Time. We are playing at the Knitting Factory with this great band MOURN and L.A. homies Adult Books September 6, and then this really fun festival called Meltasia on September 10. I’m nervous about that because there are a lot of other intimidating performers on that lineup and I know it will have to be my greatest performance of all time.
We’re doing a west coast tour with this great band The Cradle and Animal Show (we have stolen all their band mates) in the second half of October! Details To Be Announced.
BW: Well, I love the album, and think you’re doing all the right stuff. I’m really excited.
Catch Sloppy Jane live in New York September 6 at the Knitting Factory with MOURN and Adult Books. You can listen to more Sloppy Jane music here.