Picking Brains at Pitchfork: A Lull

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We set up a picnic near the Port-O-Johns to shoot the breeze with bands.

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Kerri O'Malley | July 23, 2012

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On Sunday, June 15, Kerri O’Malley and Kayla Wroblewski approached the outer rim of the Pitchfork Music Festival, armed with a zebra-print picnic blanket, tape recorder, and untrained, inquisitive personalities – ready to converse with some of the day’s most interesting acts. Read our interview with A Lull below, and check back this week for conversations with Thee Oh Sees, Dirty Beaches, and Milk Music.

Kerri O’Malley: So you’re pretty fresh off the stage – only an hour or so. How does it feel, sweat and all?

Todd Miller: It feels really great. I think we were really surprised with the turnout. We were all thinking worst-case scenario…that there were going to be only 100 or so people, but there was a lot more.

Nigel Evan Dennis: We saw bands playing at the same time on previous days, and we were thinking hope there would be more, so it was a nice surprise.

KO: Have you guys played many fests before?

Todd: Some Chicago street fests, but nothing like this.

Kayla Wroblewski: What bands are you interested in seeing at the fest?

Nigel: I think Big K.R.I.T. was amazing yesterday, probably my favorite of the festival. I like A$AP Rocky, but I liked Big K.R.I.T. more. I just like hip hop shows more than rock shows.

KO: Why’s that?

Nigel: It’s more entertaining, I guess. Not in a goofy way, just that it’s a fun showcase of talent. It’s a really cool thing. And, you know, you see rock bands all the time and it’s just…I mean, even us, we’re some band with guitars and stuff, but those guys, it’s just them, they’re the whole show, and it’s kind of special.

KO: It’s one person that has to take up an entire stage and here, at a fest, to entertain so many people…

Nigel: Yeah, A$AP Rocky had, like, 10 dudes with him, but Big K.R.I.T. it was just him and his DJ, and it was really cool.

KO: Does your love of hip-hop or just the idea of someone with that kind of presence come into your studio work at all or is it something you think about on stage?

Todd: I think we all have our own influences. I listen to hip-hop a lot. Everyone listens to whatever, everything and brings it to the table in different ways. So I don’t know if you can see a way that hip-hop or Big K.R.I.T. influenced us in our recordings or live, but it’s just there.

KW: What makes you dance?

Aaron: I don’t dance. This guy is a really good dancer [points to drummer Ashwin Deepankar]. He does the Bill Cosby dance.

Nigel: I’d say Top 40 Hip Hop. You know, you go to a bar and you want to hear Rihanna or whoever, not some rock band…

KW: What do you guys mean by “some rock band”? You keep throwing that out there as a negative thing.

Nigel: Well I mean you don’t want to go to a bar and hear Mazzy Star –

KW: I love Mazzy Star!

Nigel: Me too, but you want to go to bar and hear rap or something. If you want to have a party and dance…I danced a little to Hot Chip last night, they’re awesome, but when I get drunk, it’s like hip-hop. I’ll, like, stick out of the van and dance to A$AP Rocky.

KW: Are you guys going to do some hip-hop?

Todd: I would love to. I would love to make beats for anyone.

KW: How do you feel about your music now – are you satisfied?

Todd: Right now I am so happy with what we’re doing, but when we get into the next recording process, it’s like what haven’t we done, what can we do, where do we go next. Nigel: There are a lot of bands, like Beach House, that are satisfied with their style and their sound, and that’s fine. But I feel like with us, at least between the last three releases we’ve done, they’re drastically different. They sound like us, but it’s just that we’ve tried different things every time.

Todd: That’s the goal, to keep making something that’s different.

KW: Yeah but different isn’t always good.

Todd: But we really want to push ourselves to see what we can do.

Nigel: It’s not like we’re gonna go write a funk record –

Todd: Well… [All laugh]

KW: A little bit out there…what do your parents think of what you’re doing?

Ashwin: My parents hate it. They hate that I’m playing music. I mean, they’re supportive, but they’d much rather me be going to school. I work at a grocery store now, a Jewel Osco in the suburbs.

KO: Go to school for what?

Ashwin: Anything that’s a little more…they just want me to have more of a foundation, more stability. I have no stability. They are supportive, they’d just much rather me be doing something else.

Todd: I can say for my parents, my parents are real supportive. They’d rather me make money doing it, but they’re really supportive. They were here, and [Nigel’s] parents were here, [Aaron’s] parents were here.

Aaron: I think my parents have probably missed two Chicago shows.

KW: So they’re really proud of you. That’s so cool.

Todd: I dropped my dog off at my parents’ house this morning and they weren’t there, they left a note on the door that said, “Have a great show, we’re so proud of you.” [Collective aww]

Aaron: During our third song my dad started crying.

KO: Do your parents hang out together in the crowd and wear your merch?

Aaron: My parents do sometimes wear our band t-shirts.

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