Checking In and Looking Ahead with Negative Gemini
Negative Gemini has occupied a special place in our world for some time now via her steady stream of captivating live shows, recordings, playlists, videos, and other projects. Although we intermittently crossed paths with Negative Gemini (Lindsey French) since we first saw her perform in Los Angeles in 2018 (sharing the bill with George Clanton and Charles), a lengthier one-on-one eluded us until now. And it’s easy to understand why a face-to-face conversation hasn’t been the easiest thing to schedule — in recent months, Negative Gemini has not only shared live bills with Part Time, Cherry Glazerr, and Kirin J. Callinan among others, but also diligently continued to write and record new music, as well as assist with the day-to-day work of record label 100% Electronica. Despite her formidable work schedule, we were delighted to finally — and fortunately — have the opportunity to speak more extensively with Negative Gemini about her move to L.A., new music, past releases, and the rigors and rewards of keeping her creative endeavors DIY.
Bobby Weirdo: You live in L.A. now, and before that you were in New York and Richmond, Virginia. You’ve also lived in Houston and Baton Rouge.
Negative Gemini: Yeah, I was born in Baton Rouge. I lived in Virginia, Houston, and Louisville, Kentucky.
BW: You were born in the South and have lived so much in the South — do you see yourself as a Southern musician? Your music certainly doesn’t fit any sort of Southern cliché or stereotype, but you have been very active there musically.
NG: I never really identified with that. When I think of Southern music, I think of country music or folk music. I’ve never related to those too much, so I kind of feel like some kind of vagrant.
BW: Was it in Virginia that you had your hip hop group with your friends?
NG: Yeah, in Richmond.
BW: Did the group have a name?
NG : It was three of us, and we called ourselves Les La Britanica. It was fun, and that’s how I started producing music.
BW: So you recorded with that group?
NG: Yeah, we just hung out at one person’s apartment and would all work on the beats, recording right there in his living room, really casually.
BW: Were you using an app, or a program in particular [to record]?
NG: We started with GarageBand, and then we got Logic. I don’t even remember how I would record vocals — an SM58 or something.
BW: Do you still have the recordings?
NG: Yeah – almost all of the discography is still on Bandcamp.
BW: As Les La Britanica or Negative Gemini?
NG: As Les La Britanica -- I never merged the two in any way.
BW: I saw you briefly after a December John Maus show at the Regent in L.A., but the last time I saw you perform was at the Resident, sharing the bill with George Clanton and Charles. Since then, you’ve moved to L.A. full-time. What’s been the immediate impact that life in L.A. has had on your creative life and output?
NG: I think it’s energizing to be in a place like this. I had just spent the last year living in Charlottesville, Virginia where I didn’t have any peers that were in the same world as me. So it’s easy to lose sight of the possibilities of things, but once I got here it’s just so easy to make friends with all these people who are in the same world as me. It really opened my mind again to what’s possible. Also, just being in this different environment is inspiring. I don’t know how, but the environment always influences my sound in some way.
BW: Both you and George run the label 100% Electronica, right?
BW: What does your involvement with the label entail these days?
NG: I’m not heavily involved with it, but when George started it, I said I would help in any way that I can. Sometimes I help with the physical aspect of it, like fulfilling orders and keeping everything organized. We have a whole double garage that we use as our warehouse. Right now [the label is] a place for Negative Gemini to live, and I try to do what I can, but he’s really the business mind.
BW: Are you using that same space to write and record music as well?
NG: Sort of. I don’t use the garage to record in; I actually just do it in my room. There’s a tiny desk in the corner of my bedroom where I record my music. George has an in-house studio too, so when he’s out of the room I go in there and use all his fancy stuff.
BW: For that desk set-up you have in your room, is it a computer and a synth?
NG: I have a MIDI keyboard, studio monitors, guitar, bass, and vocal stuff. That’s pretty much it – it’s mostly just done on Logic, with not a ton of acoustic recording happening.
BW: Charles [Charlotte Lindèn Ercoli Coe] leaves what sounds like a voicemail at the end of “You Weren’t There Anymore”. It’s hard to make out all the words, but I was wondering if she left a voicemail on your phone, or how that happened.
NG: I [already] knew her, and really liked her voice. I don’t even know if I gave her the song – I just asked if she could record herself talking about something for a minute and send it to me to put on a song that had a part that needed a voiceover. She said sure, and did it. I don’t think I gave her any instruction, and it fit so well.
BW: What’s the background to the video for that track? Did you film it in Virginia or L.A.?
NG: We filmed it in December and January in L.A.. We rented out the Boys & Girls Club of La Habra, and were able to use their gym.
BW: There’s a narrative for that video that includes cheerleaders, a cheerleader with a neck brace, a love interest, and more. Where did the vision come from for that?
NG: From the director, Cory Nixon. He was also the director of George’s video for “Dumb”. He came to me with the idea. I thought it sounded good, so we did it.
BW: You put together good eclectic playlists, and I had a few questions about them. You have one called “Not Kurt Vile”. What does that mean?
NG: I put songs that I like on that [one], which is like my indie music playlist. I decided to name it that because when I first made it, Spotify just kept recommending Kurt Vile to me. And if I left it going for too long, Kurt Vile would inevitably come on, and my “Discover” playlists were a bunch of Kurt Vile songs. No shade to him or anything, but I just thought, “There’s more than just Kurt Vile out there – what is going on?” So I thought it would be funny to call it that. It’s indie music that meets the requirement of not being Kurt Vile.
BW: I’ve seen a lot of common threads in that list, like Ariel Pink, John Maus, and Part Time, but then there’s also been more unexpected inclusions like Oasis. Is the list essentially a collection of music you’re either listening to now or have enjoyed listening to in the past?
NG: Yeah, it’s things I’ve always liked, or things that I’ve just found yesterday. I’ve got a couple different playlists, but I think “Not Kurt Vile” is where I put the music that’s most influential to me.
BW: Between your music, George’s music, and the label, your days must feel pretty intensely full of music. What’s a day-in-the-life of Negative Gemini like?
NG: I usually make sure I’ve done all my record label stuff first, like fulfilling any orders for my vinyl or cassettes. Lately, organizing everything surrounding the music takes up more time than actually making the music. Figuring out logistics of a tour, advancing shows, promoting shows, figuring out what’s coming next, press…I’m doing all of that. I don’t have a manager, so there’s a lot of that.
Then, if I’m not feeling exhausted, I’ll work on writing or recording music. I’ve been recording my next album for the past year, on and off. It just takes a lot of time for me — I’m slow, throw out a lot of things, and obviously I’m really ADD in terms of my sound, and even what genre it is. So I spend a lot of time just figuring out what the vibe is going to be, trying to find a common thread, throwing out things that don’t fit in, and starting over.
BW: There’s a stylistic jump from Body Work to Bad Baby — moving away from drum ‘n’ bass and dance influences to more down-tempo territory. Do you think you’ll continue moving in that direction for the upcoming album?
NG: I don’t know, because I’m still all over the place. I’ve been making a lot of drum ‘n’ bass music, but then also making things with Motown-sounding drums, and stuff like that. So [I’m working out] where those two things meet and what is going to happen.
I don’t listen to a ton of electronic music, but I’m drawn to it, as well as a lot of other things. We’ll see – I’m not really sure what’s going to happen. For me, it’s more challenging and fun to try to write the sing-songs. That’s always an alluring direction for me.
BW: Would your ideal scenario be to let go of the arguably less-creative aspects of work like tour logistics, social media management, and label responsibilities? Do those tasks inspire you and help inform your music, or would you prefer to get to the point where you don’t have involvement with those aspects of the work?
NG: I wouldn’t say that it inspires my work, but I feel like I would have a hard time letting some of that go into someone else’s hands. I like being involved in every decision -- especially when it comes to shows — and I like to feel passionately about the acts that I'm playing with. And I want people when they come to my shows to feel like they're in a curated Negative Gemini universe. So I love when places let me go to town picking the lineup and the house music and everything. That is awesome. And the label stuff — I kind of like having that other thing I can go do when I don't feel like working on music. It's pretty neat to be a part of because I can see how much it's growing all the time and it's very exciting.
Even though it’s too much sometimes, I can’t help myself. I’m just a hands-on kind of person. I’ve been doing this for a long time, I’ve learned a lot, and I think I’m good at a lot of it. So that’s why I keep doing it myself.
BW: When you include a demo version along with a later, more fleshed-out version of a track like “Don’t Worry Bout the Fuck I’m Doing” on Body Work, is that because the demo captured something that maybe wasn’t also present in the later version?
NG: I put that demo on the deluxe edition because I thought it was funny how drastic the difference was from the demo to the final [version], and that it might be interesting for people to hear what one of my songs might start out being, and then become.
BW: The track “Forget Your Future” is not actually on the Forget Your Future album. How did that happen?
NG: That’s so funny – nobody’s ever asked me that, but it’s true. That song originally was on the album, because it’s one of the first Negative Gemini songs that I made. But then later, I re-released it on Real Virtual Unison, which is a four-track EP. When I re-released it, I was beginning to put everything on iTunes and Spotify. So I decided to take it off Forget Your Future. I think it was even mixed differently when I put it on Real Virtual Unison. It was kind of a weird decision to take it off Forget Your Future, but it was on there originally.
BW: You have a series of live dates coming up in June with TV Girl…
NG: I just played with Cherry Glazerr in Anaheim, I have the tour [you mentioned], and even more shows have been added since. When I’m done with the TV Girl tour, I’m going to New York to play.
BW: Oh yeah, you’ve been including Cherry Glazerr in your playlist.
NG: Definitely. I love Cherry Glazerr — they’re amazing.
BW: What are your plans for the rest of 2019 and 2020?
NG: I’m not really a big planner, but I am trying to finish this album as soon as I can. I don’t like to leave big gaps of time without releasing music. I like to keep busy, so there will be new music soon. Once I have another album come out there will be a national tour, and all that stuff. I’m just going to keep on trucking.
Upcoming Negative Gemini live dates include:
6/06 - Mahall's, Lakewood, OH *
6/07 - El Club, Detroit, MI *
6/10 - Ace of Cups, Columbus, OH *
6/11 - Hoosier Dome, Indianapolis, IN *
6/12 - Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL *
6/14 - Backroom at Colectivo Coffee, Milwaukee, WI *
6/15 - Fine Line, Minneapolis, MN *
6/17 - Baby’s Alright, New York, NY
* Supporting TV Girl
All tickets for sale at www.negativegemini.com