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Interview: Camila Grey of LA Duet Uh Huh Her

Interview: Camila Grey of LA Duet Uh Huh Her

| On 23, Jan 2012

Not too long after Camila Grey and Leisha Hailey released their debut record Common Reaction in ’08 and quickly gained critical acclaim as a hot new electro-pop band, they split from their record label, and subsequently disconnected themselves from the managerial amenities previously available to them.  This artist/label divorce drove Grey and Hailey to do some serious soul-searching in terms of how they wanted their creative voice to manifest from then on.

After spending several months getting back in touch with their fundamental musical inspirations, most visceral emotions, and how to realize their vision for the new album, the two musicians crafted a record (with the help of producer Wendy Melvoin and drummer Josh Kane) that channels diverse instrumentation and lyrics steeped in rigorously unforgiving elements of reality.  Grey and Hailey convey through the music and lyrics of their latest oeuvre, Nocturnes, that there’s no harshness of reality too dark to be transcended.

For a little background info- the band consists of Camila Grey on bass, guitar, vocals, keyboard, and production, and Leisha Hailey on bass, keyboard, and background vocals.  You may know Hailey from her role as Alice in Showtime’s The L Word, or perhaps from the band The Murmers that she formed in 1991.  Grey previously played bass and keys in experimental/indie band Mellowdrone, and has lent a musical hand to artists such as Dr. Dre, Tricky and Busta Rhymes, among other musicians.  She also played piano for Adam Lambert in his 2010 Glam Nation Tour.

Camila Grey talks about her songwriting process, gay rights, and her views on how the music industry has changed over the last several decades.

Michele Zipkin: How does a typical day look when you are getting down to song musing or recording? What tends to come first in your writing process- lyrics, melody or chord progression?

Camila Grey: I usually start out with a drum beat and then a chord progression on a synth or guitar.  I usually will build a song from that angle, then add bass, more percussion, more synths, vocals,etc.  Layer upon layer and then by the end of the day I usually have something to work with.

MZ: When you’re mixing a song, do you tend to gravitate toward one effect more than another? Ex: are you a “delay whore”?

CG: Yes I am a delay whore.  How ever could you tell?  LOL.  I also love using compressors and choruses on a bass sound.

MZ: When you first write any one particular song, how long does the “honeymoon period” usually last?

CG: Usually about a month.  After that I begin to tire of it and want to move on to something new.

MZ: What kind of microphone best captures your voices? If you had to choose one go-to vocal mic, what would it be and why?

CG: For live we love the simplicity of the Beta 58.  It’s really round and doesn’t catch too much stage noise.  As far as studio I’ve used everything from an SM-7 to Neumann U-87’s to a AKG C12 or Telefunken ELA M251.

Photo by Lisa Fletcher

MZ: When someone describes your music, who do you secretly wish to be compared to (if anyone) and why?

CG: I’ve heard this once and I was definitely excited when Mitch Schneider our publicist said we were like the female New Order.

MZ: If you could insert one of your songs into an existing movie, which one would it be, and which song would you choose?

CG: I would put our song “Human Nature” in the very first Twilight, because that is what I was asked to write it for.  It would have gone really nicely in the rolling credits I think.    Oh well.

MZ:  If you could sit down and have a beer with any famous musician, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

CG: Definitely Bjork.  I just want to pick her brain about all her production choices and writing style and climb volcanoes with her.

MZ: Are there any musicians or bands you’ve always wanted to share the stage with? Collaborate with?

CG: Thom Yorke, Dave Gahan, Kanye West.  I think we’d do cool collaborations with them.

MZ: What are your views on home recording versus studio recording?

CG: I love both. With a pro-tools or Ableton rig or whatever platform you choose you are able to make excellent studio sounding records from the comfort of your own home.  As far as studios though, I love Henson’s live rooms in Los Angeles.  You just can’t fake that real sound with digital reverb chambers on your computer so I choose to cut drums and vocals mostly at studios.

MZ: Compare producing a record on a label to DIY- what are the pros and cons to both sides of the coin?

CG: Pros with Label- MONEY!  Con- Their opinion which is based solely on MONEY and making theirs back.  Pros with DIY- Creative Control and ownership.  Con- NO MONEY and No TOUR SUPPORT!

 MZ: How does your emotional state affect the songs you sing- live and in the studio? Does your mood ever impede upon or help anything about your recording process? Performances?  Do you find yourself putting away feelings when you perform and/or record?

CG: I think when I record I’m way more emotive than when I sing live.  It’s a solitary experience when I’m at home cutting vocals or in the studio.  You can really just close your eyes and focus on those emotions because you’re solely singing the song. When I play live I’m focusing on so many technical aspects of the set (playing keys, guitar, bass, singing, etc) that sometimes I find myself not in the moment.  Then you hope the lights and music draw attention away from all that. Trying to get better at that, ha.

MZ. What do you think is the biggest obstacle that lesbian culture still faces? How has the gay community made social/political progress in the last several years?

CG: Obviously the gay community has been represented more and more in the mainstream through shows like Will and Grace, The L word, Glee, etc.  So I think more and more people will see these characters and absolutely relate to them and thus have more compassion and awareness for the community.  People fear what they don’t understand so hopefully this surge in the spotlight in mainstream media will help further people’s understanding that we’re just like everybody else.

The biggest obstacle that we still face is that our government violates our civil and human rights by passing legislation against us based on archaic thinking and religious dogma.  It’s so unevolved.  They might as well blame Santa for their plight at this point because it makes absolutely no logical sense to me to deny people this basic human right simply to love one another.

MZ: Have you covered or plan to cover any songs?  Is there a song out there that you connect with more than another?

CG: I keep wanting to cover a Depeche Mode song.  It’s a secret.

MZ: Does the title Nocturnes have any connection to or inspiration from Chopin? (Who wrote several nocturnes, as you may know.)

CG: Yes, I’m a huge Chopin Fan, and he’s been an inspiration for years for me.

MZ: What do you think are some challenges that musicians face in the music industry today that may not have been issues 30 or 40 years ago? How has it gotten harder or easier to be a successful artist in today’s industry?

CG: I think it’s a producer’s world and with that comes solo artists who don’t do anything but sing because they can’t play any instruments.  I think it’s much harder for bands these days because pop music is so huge right now.  It’s a singles-driven market and what’s worse is that nobody has to even sing anymore because the producers and their auto-tune machines can do it for them.  To me it sounds amazing, but it lacks soul.  I don’t know one pop record where auto-tune isn’t used right now.

None of this would be an issue 40 years ago because the technology didn’t exist to correct horrible singers.  They never would have made it back then because they would have had to sing live on their own records.  I worry for the future, as it’s only going to get worse.  Thank god for bands, because they are keeping real music alive.

facebook.com/uhhuhher

4 comments
Mary
Mary

Great interview. I love them so much, they are so talented. Guys please visit us on facebook facebook.com/uhhuhherbrazil Brazil loves u girls =]

susan
susan

Right on Cam... thanks for the technical portion of the interview. Always interested in what the pros are using at home and studio. Always enjoy hearing your view.

shakewell
shakewell

Great questions, great interview! Thanks miss Michele and Cam. Now, pls do one with Leisha lol. Love UHH

Rita Brayner
Rita Brayner

Adoraria ver um show de Camila e Leisha, UH HUH HER in Brasil!!! :)WHEN?!!