WRBB’s Paige Ardill caught up with Miami band Love, Abbey at Hojoko to discuss musical maturity and their upcoming EP North.
How old were you when you first discovered your love for music?
Abbey: I only remember from my parents telling me, but when I was three years old I started doing voices for children’s dolls, the ones where you press their hands and their feet and they sing. I kept doing that, I actually did my last one about two years ago which is really embarrassing, because I’m almost 22 and I can still make my voice sound like I’m four. Eventually, I joined an all-girl rock band when I was fifteen. That was really fun, but I was the guitarist and it helped me realize I wanted to be the front person, so here we are.
Khristian: Well my dad used to plays drums, so I guess it’s a family thing. I got this toy drum set when I was about three months old and I was on my dad’s kit by the time I was two. I think I realized when I was eleven that I wanted a career out of it.
You’ve been doing voice-over work virtually your whole life, starting at the age of three. According to your website, over 60 speaking dolls worldwide contain your voice, what does that feel like, and what, if you can remember, was that process like?
A: It’s cool, I remember being ten or eleven and going to my friend’s houses and seeing the dolls in their rooms and being like ‘oh shoot’, and pretending it wasn’t happening. I liked doing it though. It’s fun to go to stores and still see them. They actually made the dolls to look like me when I was younger, so that’s pretty cool. It’s this brand called Lovey Doll, they’re based in New York and it’s a different learning lesson for every doll, ‘how to tie your shoes’ and ‘farm animals’.
Does ‘Love, Abbey’ come from that?
A: Oh God no, very separate.
During the creation of your EP Lost At Sea, you left behind the modern world, cell phone and all, and went out to a cabin in the woods to create. Were you taking a page out of Henry David Thoreau’s book when you decided to do so, and what was that like?
A: I’ve heard of that process from all of my favorite big folk artists, Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, Sufjan Stevens, so I thought there was probably a reason for how it works, and it worked. I locked myself in this sketchy farmhouse cabin in the middle of this place called Hot Springs, population 400 people. It was only two weeks, so it wasn’t too long, but it was a good amount of time. There was a downtown street in the city that was the only place where there were businesses or restaurants, and it was about 45 minutes away. I went there about every other day and just sit at the diner. There were maybe two other people there, but I spent most of my time locked in the cabin… I didn’t want to leave too much. I had this whole rig set up, at the time I was just learning how to produce and record, but my dad gave me some tips. He owns a recording studio, so I brought my rig and some instruments and some ideas.
What is your songwriting process like, both lyrically and in terms of production?
A: Lyrics, melody, and chords tend to come all at the same time, I can generally finish a song within an hour. I don’t like to start and stop and finish it the week after. I like being in the moment with a song. Production wise, I’ve just recently started doing my own production. I write for a licensing company as well where I do all of the production myself because it’s very fast paced for commercials and what not, so I’ve taught myself how to be better with production. I do have a producer back home though, Josh Diaz. That whole album I wrote in the mountains, I brought him eleven songs that were kind of raw, but I produced them bare bones and he brought them to life. Lyrically, I write a lot of poetry, and sometimes I’ll have a finished poem and a finished song and fit them together somehow, but they usually just come the same time as the melody.
Who do you turn to for inspiration, both in your music and your everyday life?
A: My top three music inspirations are Bon Iver, Shakey Graves, and Sufjan Stevens. Even though some of my stuff is more rap or pop, those three just inspire me because they make music for the purpose of real music, they’re not in the business of selling. They’re in it for real reasons.
K: I think drumming wise I look up to Will Chapman of Colony House, Ryan Winnen of COIN, and Whisler Allen of Hippo Campus… those are my three favorite bands so I guess it’s fitting. There’s something about the style I like, the big drums, the big cymbals, and it all fits well with the stuff that Abbey has.
Your website noted that you play every instrument, which is your favorite to play live?
A: Favorite to play in general is piano, but I hate playing it live because I don’t like keyboards, I have a phobia of keyboards. They’re not the same as a piano, even if they have weighted keys and the whole thing, they just don’t feel right to me. I used to play, in my live shows, with a full keyboard, but it’s not the same. I really like performing without an instrument, I’m always holding one in the studio, so when I’m live I like not to be stranded to something.
As someone who has been making music since you were 15, how has your maturity impacted your craft?
A: It’s funny you say that. On the plane today, I didn’t have WiFi, so I could only listen to whatever was on my computer, and I was listening to old old old demos I recorded on Voice Memos when I was like, 15 and oh my gosh they’re so bad. I think I opened up to collaborating and taking in opinions and critique more as I got older. In the beginning, I had the mindset, ‘I know what I’m doing and the songs I’m writing are perfect’, but now I’ve been co-writing more, not on my personal stuff but on other projects and I’ve realized that everybody has credibility in their opinions.
What is your favorite thing that you’ve created so far?
A: I haven’t released it yet, but it’s called ‘Miss Me’. It’s an orchestral piece, I’m composing the score for it for a symphony to play down in Miami. I wrote it in the cabin, it’s very special to me.
K: For a while, it was my least favorite song to play but now I think it’s either ‘Winter Air’ or… what’s the rap one called?
A: ‘Early Morning’.
K: ‘Early Morning’. I couldn’t stand that song because there are a lot of track parts on it, sample pad or whatever, but now it’s really fun to play. They’re all pretty fun.
Your latest release ‘Winter Air’ seems to be hinting towards an album, is there one coming in the foreseeable future?
A: ‘Winter Air’ is part of an upcoming EP called North. Everything has that vibe about it that ‘Winter Air’ does, kind of dark and spooky. There’s another single on it called ‘Early Morning’…I rap in it.