With great excitement I announce to you all that we recently had the wonderful opportunity of doing some q+a with a KR favorite, D.C.’s own indie pop darlings, Exit Clov. Fittingly, Exit Clov will be starting their East Coast tour in D.C. at the Black Cat on April 1 (as Jamie noted) and then right here in New York at Public Assembly (with Proud Simon, Milly Beau, Goodfinger and DJ jG) April 2. Go out and support them! If you get a chance to hit up Public Assembly, don’t be a stranger – I’ll be there. Come find me. Just yell out “I love Knox Road!!”
Fronted by twin sisters (again??) Emily and Susan Hsu, with Aaron on guitar, Brett on bass, and John on drums, Exit Clov plays some extraordinarily organic, enthralling pop. The Hsu’s vocals are precious, leaving you with a little sugary hangover after listening. That’s a good thing, my friends.
Oh and by the way. Exit Clov and KR have teamed up to give you a little treat: the MP3 of their latest hit single, from their batch of new material, “District Menagerie”! And for good measure, a cover of a Peter Tosh tune they did for a public service announcement in DC for children’s immigration rights.
Exit Clov – “Steppin Razor” (cover) [MP3]
On to the good stuff…
KR: When and how did you get into music?
[Susan]: Em and I played violin and piano since we were really little, and played in orchestras, then taught ourselves chords on the guitar in high school. We were always singing and harmonizing around the house, so being able to accompany ourselves on piano and guitar (plus having two of us around) was already like being in a band. Listening to music was also a big part of growing up. We had an older brother and we were always going through his tape collections and finding cool stuff like Joy Division and Fishbone and Nine Inch Nails that our own peers were too young to know about!”
KR: How was “Exit Clov” the artist created? Who and what are your personal influences (musically and non)? What inspires you?
[Aaron]: Emily and Susan began writing tunes and performing as a singer/songwriter duo. Deep down, they wanted their songs to rock a little more and sought out a rhythm section. The first year we practiced 4 or 5 days a week in a tiny basement apartment on K St in DC and immediately began playing shows in DC and NY. Right from the beginning we knew we wanted our sound to be influenced and inspired by the city we were living in – but to also transcend our surroundings and get our sound out to more people. Hearing the DC sound of Q and not U, Fugazi, Dismemberment Plan and Beauty Pill we knew that we wanted to be a part of the city’s catalogue – but mostly wanted to create our own niche.
KR: What kind of musician do you consider yourself to be?
[Emily]: It’s always been hard to categorize ourselves as musicians since we all come from such different musical backgrounds. Some of us studied jazz, classical, music theory, etc., which definitely makes us write, work, listen to and appreciate music in different ways. After we started playing together, it took a while to find a collective sound that we were happy with. But over 5 years, I think we’ve evolved to something cohesive and trademarked that we can call ‘exit clov.’ someone called us “kaleidoscopic pop noir” once, and it seems kind of appropriate. most of the music we make involves some level of pop melodies and structure, with a lot of color and darkness at the same time.
KR: For your upcoming shows, including April 2 at Brooklyn’s Public Assembly, you recently told me you had some new tracks coming out. What sound are you looking for when you write the music and in what direction do you think your music is progressing? What’s your thought process going into each song and how do you approach the music?
[John]: Our sound has definitely changed since the band started. I think right now we are shooting for a back to basics approach which is less focused on layering and using the studio as an instrument and more focused on playing the tunes as a band and trying to keep them raw. We tend to share song ideas with the ladies and the ones which offer the most melodic possibilities make the cut. By the time the song makes it through the 5 person vetting process it’s often unrecognizable from the original!
KR: What would you like to accomplish as an artist? What are your plans for the immediate future and beyond?
[Aaron]: We plan to continue our mid/northern Atlantic runs to keep making fans. Hopefully not just one at a time, but sometimes that is how it works. The most important thing to the five of us is that we like working together and we believe in our craft. We aren’t reinventing the wheel or anything, but we do believe that there is an originality to our sound that sets us apart. So, in some way, I feel that we have accomplished a key goal of making something that sounds like Exit Clov, and trying to share it with people by whatever medium works for the moment. If the touring isn’t heavy – we try to send out free music to our fans to keep their ears warm. When it’s time to play shows we can count on good crowds in a bunch of different cities. All in all, it is a great feeling and a wonderful second family for all of us.
KR: Quick list: 5 songs currently on your hot list and a brief note about each.
1. ELO, “don’t bring me down”. it’s pretty much become the soundtrack of my recent move to ny. It’s been following me around. i hear it on the radio, bars, and i’ve jammed on it with some old friends.
2. Operation Ivy, “energy”- This was my favorite album growing up. Last week I learned about using keywords in google to pirate music, and this was the first thing I downloaded.
3. Lady Gaga, “let’s dance”. i like the synths and the bass drum. I’m lame.
4. Rolling Stones, “their satanic majesties request”, entire album. My brother has it on vinyl. I’ve listened to this a few times recently.
5. Morrissey, “sing your life.” Even though he’s a wuss, this song is great.