For the last couple of years, Plush have cemented themselves in the burgeoning local SF scene, providing rich pop tunes to listeners. At times heavy and at times soothing, they mix sounds to produce songs that are always catchy. They started out as a group of friends who realized they were all on the same page in wanting to start a band together. Once they established who plays what, they quickly got to work. After releasing Pale in 2014 and Pine in 2015, they put out Please earlier this year on Father/Daughter Records.
Plush is made up of Karli (guitar), Eva (guitar), Sinclair (bass), and Dylan (drums). They were kind enough to hangout and answer some questions before their December 3rd show at The Echo.
You released your EP, Please, this year on Father Daughter Records. I saw you had some shows with Creative Adult, Fear of Men, and others… I love those bands so for me, it’s been a huge year for you. What do you make of your year?
K: Some of the greatest, biggest things that have ever happened to us happened right after Please came out. I think that Father Daughter has done some incredible things for us. It’s put us on the map for a lot of things.
E: I think that one of the most rewarding things about playing live music is getting to play with bands that you like. Just bands that you never thought you would play with. That’s so cool. It feels very rewarding.
D: We got to tour the East Coast which was cool. We had never gone out there in any of our bands.
K: I had personally never even gotten to go to the East Coast, never been to New York City. So it’s sick being a part of something that give you an excuse to go on a vacation with your best friends. And to play with a band like Swings from D.C. that we played with once, last November, and through the internet maintain this relationship. They’re the reason we went out there. We got to do so many huge things this year that none of us have ever done.
D: We put that record out and for me personally, it was cool to start seeing people that I had never seen at our shows before. Just getting to talk to people and getting to know people that are like, “Yeah I had never heard your band but this is really cool.” It’s cool that people are even interested in it.
K: People that aren’t just our best friends are starting to come to our shows. We meet them and they’re sick and we recognize them and we’re creating a little fanbase in our community.
Going off of that, what’s in store for 2017?
K: We’re doing South By (SXSW). It just got confirmed, officially. We’re playing a Father Daughter/Riot Act Media showcase. That’s the only official thing we have set up for that… New music?
E: Hopefully a new record.
K: We’re in the very early stages.
D: We’ve been working on it. We just went in all year. We didn’t stop doing anything, so I was like, “Alright, let’s just chill for a little bit.”
K: And their other band just recorded a full length, so they were working on that a lot which gave us a chance to just chill out, play a couple shows here and there. For 2017, we already have a couple songs that are coming together.
D: We’re going to be playing a couple tonight.
S: There’s that show on the 20th.
D: Oh, yeah. We’re playing this show in Oakland on January 20th. It’s the Display of Bay Area Unity show. It’s a charity show. It’s a crazy line up that I’m super stoked for.
K: It’s a huge fundraiser that within the first day of making the event page, it already got almost 400 people attending. It’s at a tiny DIY space in Oakland (laughs). All the proceeds are going to Planned Parenthood, ACLU – it’s going to be a really good 2017 kick-off show for us.
S: Artists too. Just bringing people together.
E: There’s visual art for sale and every dollar spent goes to different charities of the bands’ choosing.
K: I would also personally like to maybe later next year do another winter tour if things line up. But we haven’t talked about that.
D: Not back to the Northwest.
S: We got sick…
K: Dylan and I got very close to having pneumonia. Sleeping in the van with chills.
D: I had a raging sinus infection our entire tour in January. It was fucking miserable.
K: Super crazy fevers. It’s funny cause Dylan and I are from SoCal and not used to cold weather I guess. But it wasn’t even that bad!
D: That was the only time I’ve ever been like, “Fuck playing music. Fuck playing in bands. I want to go home. I couldn’t blow my nose because I was blowing blood out of it.”
S: We were touring with another band too, so there was 8 of us. Everybody got sick.
When you are writing or recording, do you consciously think about your musical influences? Or is it something that comes out naturally? I’m sure you listen to all sorts of music but obviously there are labels of “shoegaze” and whatever labels people put –
D: The worst genre name!
Is the sound of Plush something that came naturally?
K: Of course there’s overlap in the music that we like that made us initially want to do this, but specifically each of us have very different influences that the others don’t have. Different music from our past that we particularly like that maybe we aren’t thinking about when we’re writing. Then we’ll listen to it after and for something that I’ve written I’ll think, “Oh that kind of sounds like a country vocal melody.” That’s because I like old country and I don’t consciously realize the sound.
D: For the last record, I definitely tried to go for a specific vibe. I was listening to a lot of more electronic stuff and 70s German stuff that’s all very monotonous. It never switches. So I was trying to do that because the first thing we put out was very loud rock drumming and I’m not super confident with drums. Other than that, I think we all just come together.
K: I think our decision, tone-wise, paints a cool picture because everyone has subtle differences. I know when I write songs, I write them acoustic. I don’t even know what effect I’m going to use. I don’t have a plan for it. I just write it like it’s a pop song basically. Then when we all get together and figure out our parts, it blossoms into something totally different. We play around with dynamic and tone a lot, which will take what might be at its core a pop acoustic song and turns it into something else.
S: I guess I’ve been playing bass for about 2 years, but I don’t really feel like that. When we’re at Different Fur – they have so much stuff like a giant closet full of pedals – I don’t think about it as much until I have all that available and I just think, “Wow I wonder what this would sound like.” Then try to think of a specific tone.
K: For the most part none of us are gear-heads, which I think works to our benefit. We get to go in there pretty open-minded and just fool around with things and a lot of it ends up being accidental.
S: You go “Ooooo! This is weird.”
E: Maybe using the shitty amp that no one wants to use is actually going to be the thing that makes us sound amazing. Someone might say, “Tthat amp fucking sucks you loser.” We’re like, “No, you’re the loser!”
D: For like a year and a half I didn’t use a hi-hat. I just used toms and snare and two ride cymbals. I didn’t have a clutch for my hi-hat until about 6 months ago so I just never used one. One of my cymbals is broken. I think that’s the cool part of playing with bands that have proper gear, and them being super stoked about a tone or something. I’ve seen it happen to Eva. People have hit me up on the internet asking me about Eva’s pedals. I told them and they’re like, “Wait, Boss stuff? Like the $60 Boss thing?”
E: Yeah if anyone’s curious, I pretty much only use the Boss Digital Reverb pedal. You can get it online for probably 60 bucks. And it’s a great pedal!
K: I got mine because of Eva’s. I love the sound. I would say that we’ve been called shoegaze because of that pedal, and that pedal alone. Our songs at their core are poppy. They’re not loud, drone-y songs. There’s melodies and leads. But that tone gives you long digital drone-y sound. Which I think with the other things that Eva and I use gives it a different context.
D: Also, you can’t play a Mustang and use a reverb pedal and not be called a shoegaze band. Any band that uses a reverb pedal. It just frustrates me.
E: The She’s have been called a shoegaze band, which I think is funny because we definitely don’t sound like that.
Do you think it’s important when people explicitly point out female-fronted band? Or does that detract from the art? Some people like to separate art from artist. What do you think?
D: That’s their answer.
E: That’s an interesting question. I think I have an issue when it becomes…
S: THE thing.
E: Yeah, when it becomes a spectacle of sorts. I see a lot of times male promoters will put together all-female lineups, with the best of intentions. But when it becomes a novelty or a selling point or promotional thing, then that’s a bummer. That said, I think women being in music at all is very positive and since it’s not usually the standard, then it’s not inappropriate to point it out. But it probably shouldn’t be the first thing mentioned. Hannah from The She’s posted on Instagram a picture of Pardoner and captioned it “All-male rock quartet.” I was like holy shit. If I had seen “All-female rock quartet,” I wouldn’t even think about it, but this was a funny joke.
K: It’s such a norm that you don’t need to point out that it’s an all-male band. Personally, it’s all in the delivery. It’s a situational basis for me. If another woman comes to me and says, “Fuck yeah, ladies in the front you guys are sick,” I’m not going to say, “Woah, why’d you have to point it out?” Like hell yeah, we’re having a chick moment. If we’re doing something that makes you feel excited and empowered, that’s awesome. If a dude comes up to me and says, “You guys are really awesome. Also, I admire that you guys are women who fucking shred,” I’ll be like “Cool, that’s awesome! Thank you!” It’s all in the delivery. Then there are dudes who are like –
E: You girls ROCK!
S: Go GIRLS!
K: I’ve had people that I consider allies in the music scene come up to me. We’re having a conversation, then someone else asks, “You’re playing tonight. What’s your sound like?” And then have this male that I thought was my ally turn and go, “They’re this chick band that blah blah blah blah blah.” I’m immediately like pump the fucking brakes, dude. That’s our sound? What does chick band sound like exactly? That’s not a descriptive term for what our music sounds like. I think it’s a spectrum of admiration and appreciation. You’re allowed to point it out because it is at times a novelty, and it is at times the minority. But it’s the delivery for me.
S: It can be, “You have three women singing, it sounds really great. I like the way that your voices sound.” That’s just commenting on the sound because you’re women. But there’s people that call it out. It’s not even a compliment or a diss!
E: It seems like a cheap writing tool. I’ve read so many reviews on all-female bands or female-fronted bands where that’s pretty much all they say.
S: Something like “the greatest all-female band in the Bay Area.” That doesn’t mean anything.
K: Does that mean we don’t compare to the male bands?
E: I think the consensus is that “girl band” is not a genre. “Female-fronted” band is not a genre. As long as that’s distinguished, then it’s important.
K: If you’re talking about the actual sonic nature of the band and you’re talking about that fact that we’re women, then I’ll say that’s irrelevant. If you’re talking about it not necessarily as a movement, but just as a statement… Something like, “I admire that you are women and you are a minority in a male-dominated scene,” then that’s chill. That doesn’t have to do with our music. That’s just us as people.
I’ll make sure not to say those things.
K: “Caught up with this CHICK band…”
Last question, we’ll go around. One album that changed your life?
S: This year, one of my favorite albums was the new Sports album, All of Something. That’s a good album. I’ve probably listened to it like a hundred times.
D: Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain by Pavement.
E: Teen Dream by Beach House.
K: Grace by Jeff Buckley.