All Boy/All Girl - Q&A
All Boy/All Girl has made revolutionary musical movements through their upbeat orchestral strings intertwined with harmonious melodies. With a new album coming out and a USA tour, the band have been pretty busy. We catch up with Nicholas Rahn who sheds some light on ‘Slagroom’ and their musical journey so far.
Q. Could you tell us the story on how All Boy/ All Girl formed?
Danielle (lead vocals/ukulele) and I first started playing together in Philly as a duo. After we moved to New York in 2011 we started writing songs together, and made some demos. We built the band around the arrangements on the demo. We found Jessie (vocals) and Hannah (viola) through a Craigslist ad. Josh (guitar) is a childhood friend of mine. We met Susan (cello) and Joey (drums) through mutual friends. We played our first show as All Boy/All Girl in June of 2012.
Q. You're soon to release your new album 'Slagroom'. Could you tell us about the album and perhaps shed some light on the name?
This album feels like a big step from our earlier work. We really tried to think differently about songs, trying to let the melodies dictate the structure, rather than something like a chord progression or rhythmic feel. The album ended up more sprawling and wormy. It feels really unbounded, like it went in some places that we didn't expect it to go. Lyrically, the themes were a reflection of our daily lives. We made an effort to be 'life size' with the tone of the lyrics. The word Slagroom is Dutch for whipped cream. The name seemed fitting and can be interpreted to mean whatever you want it to in English.
Q. Your three week long tour around America is fast approaching. Can you tell us if there are any particular audiences that you're excited to play for and places that you're looking forward to visit?
We've done a good bit of touring, and we are very much excited to go back out on the road. This will be our first time visiting South Carolina and Florida, so I think we're all pretty excited about that. We'll be in Florida on election night which should be interesting! We're also excited to be playing Atlanta and Chicago again. They're two of our favorite cities to play.
Q. Can you explain the idea behind the artwork for the album Slagroom?
I was inspired by an artist friend of mine, Heather McKenna, who did a still-life photo series where she shone colorful lights on some geometric sculptures she made to create some interesting images. I wanted to create a sense of claustrophobia and also a sense of blandness, but to illuminate it in a really interesting way. It's a parallel to the album being about somewhat mundane things, but casting them in an abnormal context. Using the whipped cream dollop as a reference to the album name and setting it in a dirty white corner, I was able to create a really interesting space by shining different colored lights on it.
Q. As a band with seven members could you tell us how you come up with the song arrangements in order to incorporate so many different sound elements?
Danielle and I collaborate when the songs are initially coming together. Danielle acts as a gatekeeper, and quality controller. She also helps to refine the vocal melodies. The songs themselves along with the arrangements are written largely by me.
Q. The track 'Someone' wasn't included in your 2014 EP because you said it stood out differently and therefore released it separately. Could you tell us more about the subject surrounding the song and if you intend to touch on any equally important subject matters in your future material?
'Someone' was written in response to a family member of Danielle's being disowned by her religious mother for coming out as a lesbian. This is something that deeply disturbed us, and continues to inspire songs such as 'Rapture' from our new album which takes a slightly political view of the evangelical community's views on transexual and gender queer people.
Q. Could you tell us about Grind Select records and what made you collectively decide to choose them?
Grind Select is a relatively new label and management company run by our manager Jeremy Garber along with Corey Regensburg (Moon Bounce) and Kyle Stetz (Typedrummer). They focus on putting out music that's unique and unclassifiable which they often pair with interactive web experiences built by Kyle. We were actually discovered by them when Jeremy attended a show that we played with Moon Bounce in 2014. It became clear pretty quickly after meeting Jeremy that Grind Select was the perfect home for All Boy/All Girl.
Q. How has New York and Philadelphia influenced your sound and are there any artists from there in particular that resonate with you?
Philly definitely impacted us musically. There's so much going on there. Bands like Dr Dog, Kurt Vile, The Roots have all become part of the city's musical identity, which influences the whole community. In New York, there's less a sense of city wide community. There were some great bands in Bushwick coming up when we first moved here like Celestial Shore and Ava Luna. They definitely have influenced us, but also the city itself has had an enormous impact on the way we make music. The claustrophobia, the pace, and the stress are hugely impactful on our creative output.
Q. What are your hopes for the future of All Boy/ All Girl?
We want to quit our day jobs and spend more time writing, recording, and especially touring!