Aside from what they describe as the curse of coming to the fore as one of the progenitors of the controversially neon nu-rave craze that swept the world around five years ago, New Young Pony Club haven't had the easiest road. Whichever way you'd call it, NYPC's own brand of dance-punk happened to rise during a time when dayglo was enjoying a renaissance; and happily, they are also one of those few bands that have managed to maintain a devoted following after the lights came up and everyone realised they had a highlighter hangover.
The strength of their music, aesthetic and modus operandus is what has kept NYPC riding through the changing pastures of the music industry; and this is undoubtedly in no small part due to the strength of their women (and man). Hardly needing introduction, NYPC is made up of Tahita Bulmer (vocals), Andy Spence (guitar), Lou Hayter (keys), Sarah Jones (drums) and Remy Mallet (bass). As a whole, NYPC is one of those rare and wonderful creatures that don't necessarily need to draw attention to (or exploit) their strengths - because they're obvious enough, as opposed to what a lot of female driven entities in pop find it necessary to do. Which is exactly the kind of woman power the world needs - less lip service and just plain old being.
Since 'Ice Cream' hit the airwaves, the band were reportedly begging to work with such pioneering types as Diplo and DFA; but Modular Records simply didn't have the same ideas as they did and geared them towards more mainstream sensibilities. That was a long time ago though, and NYPC have found freedom in their own record label and have managed to sort themselves out to crystalise their sound and vision in The Optimist.
Already with a third album in the works, the band are currently playing some dates in Brazil as well as a few dates in the UK. We managed to get Tahita and Andy to answer some questions (that have been burning in my drafts folder for a couple of years in fact!) in between being effortlessly fierce, working on their new album and gigging in São Paulo. Check Tahita, Andy and I chatting Achilles heels and bad ass bitches...
THE BAND IS PLAYING TONIGHT AT BECO 203 SP BRAZIL. DON'T MISS THEM!
I would have really enjoyed doing this interview face to face but besides the fact that you're only doing phoners and emailers, I'm currently in Sydney, Australia...Home, obviously, to your former label Modular. How frustrating - or liberating - was it to have recorded your second album completely off your own backs?
ANDY: It wasn’t frustrating at all. It was liberating. Having said that, Modular never got involved with the music creation anyway so there wasn’t a huge difference from Fantastic Playroom except that we knew that when it was finished, we would get to make the decisions. Which was exciting.
Were you satisfied with The Optimist? What made you name it so?
ANDY: We are very satisfied with it. Much more than the first album in terms of it’s depth and production. The name came from the song but it just seemed to fit the mood we had, which was 'optimistic'; in the face of quite a tough time for us, especially Tahita who was ending a 10 year relationship.
What was the story with Modular (can I go there?)
ANDY: Ha ha ha! We didn’t fall out really, but lets put it this way: they just didn’t show us enough love to stay! They seem to only like bands from their own country.
Prior to NYPC what were you doing - in a non-musical sense also?
ANDY: We were both in bands and very bored. It’s what brought us together. I was already living off music at that point.
TAHITA: I had a job working in the advertising industry.
What did you want to do/be growing up?
ANDY: A record producer! Or a BMX champion.
TAHITA: A doctor or a mad scientist. Kind of the same thing these days.
What do you do when you're not being NYPC?
TAHITA: We are always being NYPC, its in our bones. I don’t even have time for a love life these days. We have been moonlighting a bit recently, working with other bands, singing for other bands and I’ve been trying to get a club night of the ground but its hard in London when there is so much choice.
Tahita, I've read you have a thing for Greek Mythology (I've read a lot of it too, after I was obsessed with Arthurian stories, and before I started reading stuff about Lucifer), and that you dig how Achilles chose to live in a blaze of glory and die sooner, rather than live long but quietly. It's a very romantic notion, but I assume that you'd like to have both - a long AND blazing career, right?
TAHITA: I love Greek mythology but I'm definitely more of a long and blazing career sort of person myself. Obviously, most of the universe has yet to realize how amazing this band is. There’s a lot of people probably didn’t like the whole disco punk thing and a lot of people who did and loved the first album and loved the second one. We’re working on increasing the second group.
There are many reasons as to why you guys blew up when you did, besides making music that people enjoyed...what do you think your Achilles heel is as a band, if any?
TAHITA: Our Achilles heel as a band seems to be that journalist forget that we are a strong female presence. I think getting lumped in with the whole nu rave thing was like the curse of Tutankhamen for us - and loads of other bands as well.
Lots of music fans reacted well and enjoyed the new wave of dance influenced bands, but loads more seemed to take offense and now we are all fighting to be taken seriously. Meanwhile, bands with terrible music but the right “leather jackets/we’re so cool faces" get lauded as the future of music. That’s been highly frustrating.
Obviously, you're a 'strong woman' (personally, I feel kinda awkward around that term. I'd like to think I am one, but it's connotations can be complex). What's your criteria for female artists in order to, well, *represent*? Could you name any of your contemporaries or even just any women in music who properly represent, as it were?
TAHITA: My criteria would be not shaking your ass constantly in videos and pandering to the whole sexy girl singing about wanting to be fucked constantly. There are some beautiful girls out there giving the rest of us a terrible name.
You can be sexy and strong without your back catalogue screaming "please fuck me cos that’s all I’m here for". That is a terrible example to set.
As is all the dieting and surgery and this whole drive to be famous at any cost. Why are we lauding people and giving them a career simply for turning up looking pretty at parties? Some of these women are terrible singers and have absolutely nothing to say. That’s a real pop and R'n'B problem though. In the underground there are plenty of interesting girls who properly represent.
Peaches is an obvious one. Yes she sings about sex, but in a genuinely domineering way, and you always have the sense that she’s having it all her own way. Plus she’s a bit older, so you know she’s seen all the
airheads come and go.
I’ve always loved PJ Harvey. She’s absolutely stood her ground
in terms of her image and material and she’s a goddess now. We can all aspire to that sort of single minded determination to be pure and true to a strong and intelligent vision of femininity
What's next for the band?
TAHITA: Album three. Its already sounding great.
THE BAND IS PLAYING TONIGHT AT BECO 203 SP BRAZIL. DON'T MISS THEM!