Californian quintet Gardens and Villa won over crowds in New York this past weekend with their infectious and surprising blend of synth-pop and tribal elements, which come courtesy of a varied percussion section and frontman Chris Lynch’s accomplished use of both the guitar and a Peter Pan-esque bamboo flute.
After selling out Brooklyn’s Glasslands Gallery on Friday night, it was clear the effect of their eclectic yet focused self-titled debut record had made its way from their home base in Santa Barbara to all corners of the country. From the insanely catchy beat of album highlight Orange Blossom to the darker, psychedelic Black Hills, the record is unpredictable in all the right ways, and their live show is no different.
We caught up with Lynch and bassist Shane McKillop before they took to the stage at Mercury Lounge on Saturday to ask about their first major headlining tour, the great bands they’ve seen along the way and the way their sound has been received.
PORTABLE: Descriptions of your sound are pretty varied—I’ve seen everything from Britpop to deconstructed post-punk—how you would describe your sound? What are some of the best descriptions you’ve heard from other people?
Chris: My favorite description was, “graveyard wave”—”or grave wave”, which was pretty cool. I would describe it, loosely, as psych-pop…or psych-pop new-wave…or psych-pop grave-wave…or synthetic funk-wave.
Who else would fit in that genre?
Chris: Ricky Martin.
Shane: There’s a lot of genres nowadays that you could just go on and on and on with. We’ve been called “chillwave” before, which we don’t understand. To us, that’s like laptop music and we don’t have any computers involved when we play live—or when we recorded, really. But, people say a lot of Brit-pop. I’m okay with that, I like Blur and Oasis.
Chris: I think we have like a mix of late 60s psych-pop, some 80s new-wave and then, like, early 90s Britpop…and hip hop maybe.
How would you describe your live show in 3 words?
Chris: Organic…it’s local and organic…
Chris: Sustainable and raw!
If you could support one band, who would it be?
Shane: Little Dragon. That’s my dream.
Chris: I really like John Maus‘ new record. He’s kind of my idol. Not like personality-wise, but I really like his music a lot.
You wouldn’t want to hang out with him?
Chris: No, I would want to, but he’s really, really smart and I would probably feel intimidated so I’d be too nervous to talk around him.
What’s the best thing you’ve seen or heard on tour so far?
Shane: We played Pygmalion festival in Urbana and this band called New Villager played—I think they’re Brooklyn-based. That was like the first time I’ve been fully transfixed live…they were really good. We played with Youth Lagoon back in April…
They’re blowing up right now
Shane: Right, and we got to have them on tour with us, which was really cool. It’s been a fun crowd. I’m usually asleep when the opening bands are on, though, so I’m glad I caught a couple.
What opening acts have you had on this tour?
Shane: A lot of locals
Chris: A lot of really cool bands. We played with a band called Blossoms in North Carolina…I usually try to check out the opening acts. What was the band in Atlanta?
Chris: They were cool. We had a band open for us a couple months back called Moon King. They were really cool. They’re from Toronto and they’re an awesome, awesome band. And we’ve got Helado Negro supporting us tonight. I love them.
How have the shows been different? What are you expecting tonight’s show at the Mercury Lounge to be different from the rest of the tour?
Shane: So far, we’ve been pretty impressed with all the crowds we’ve had in cities we’ve never been to before. In DC we always go really well…we had a really weird night in Charlotte with a really weird crowd unlike what we’re used to. But [being] in Brooklyn, playing Glasslands, selling it out—that felt incredible. We don’t really know what to expect across the water—if it’s going to be full or not. This is our first headlining run.
Chris: One of my favorite crowds was Atlanta—or Hotlanta. Those people just know how to party, they’re really hot. Hotlanta…The most beautiful people of any city that we’ve been in were the Hotlantians.
What’s the most exciting review you’ve got from people responding well to the record?
Chris: We got a really, really god review from The Fly in the UK—that was one of my favorites—and the AV Club blog gave us a really awesome one. Pitchfork‘s was pretty good too, but we’ve had some bad ones. Which are good, too, because they kind of humble you and put you back into the music and not the blogosphere. We’re very honored to even be recognised by people and even though some of them weren’t our favorites, we’re honored for the attention and that people like and listen to our music.
And you guys are going to Paris soon?
Shane: Yeah, we’re there in like three weeks.
What’s on your list of things to do in Paris?
Chris: I wanna go to the Musée d’Orsay, also the Louvre, I also want to have a picnic on the grassy field next to the Eiffel Tower, drink some wine…I want to smoke cigarettes with a prostitute on a balcony…I’m really looking forward to the croissants, I want to drink champagne and I want to get the espresso that they drop the sugar cube into, and when you drink it you dip the croissant in the coffee.
Where’s the next place you’d like to go?
Shane: We really wanna go to Australia
Chris: We met this guy who said he would take us on a sailboat journey over the Barrier Reef if we ever came to Australia. We really want to play South America, more than anywhere else. We feel like South Americans dig our music, they like synthy stuff.