Most band names are a play on words, an onomatopoeic orge of vowels and syllables. They can also be something boring, like a singer’s `real name'. But there are very few stage names that can excite the kid in all of us. An electro outfit from New York has a name that does though, harking back to our first disco, first romance, or first laser tag game. (Pretty) Girls & Lasers is comprised of Jack and Levi, two guys that see the NY club scene as a social aphrodisiac - and electro its oyster.
This year they’ve released top-shelf mixes dripping in something between mango juice and Megan Fox’s cleavage sweat – a delicious combination of hot electro and a mixture of older and obscure tracks. Coupled with a residency at the NY club Arlo & Esme, Jack and Levi are flying the electro banner high.
We recently chatted about when their careers started up, the nuances of the NY club scene and what they’ll be excited about in 2010.
So it’s Jack and Levi? Which one of you guys is which?
Jack: I’m Jack
Levi: And I’m Levi.
J: Seriously though. I’m the tall one and Levi is the somewhat taller one.
What part of NY are you from?
J: I’m originally from Long Island (I know, I’m embarrassed by it too) and Levi’s kind of from all over, but was born in Cincinnati, Ohio.
J: Yeah. And we do all of our production work in Manhattan.
What’s with your stage name? Tongue in cheek eroto-sci-fi?
L: I don’t know. We just wanted to make up a cool band name, and (Pretty) Girls & Lasers is what we came up with.
J: We wanted to pick something that sounded fun, a little bit indie, and different from most of the dance music acts out there.
When and how did you get into DJing?
L: Well I got into producing trance music with a friend of mine in college, and Jack’s dad was a pretty big DJ during the disco era, so he’s been around dance music his whole life.
J: Yeah, we’ve both been pretty into music – dance music, indie-rock, classic rock, all kinds of stuff – pretty much since birth.
What artists have you been spinning lately?
J: All kinds of stuff – we’re both constantly listening to new music and finding stuff to play. Between the two of us we probably listen to almost a thousand new tracks a week. Obviously most of it’s crap, but you have to go through a lot of stuff to find what’s good.
L: Yeah. As for artists, Justin Faust out of Germany has had some great stuff lately. Will Eastman out of DC, The Twelves, Treasure Fingers, Death to the Throne, Yuksek, A-Trak, 80kidz are some other artists that are pretty consistently good.
So you guys produce as well as mix? What software/hardware do you use?
L: Yeah. We’re actually in the process of working on a bunch of remixes and original tracks right now – they should be coming out soon, although we haven’t set a date yet.
J: We’ve experimented with a bunch of different software, but are mostly using Ableton with a handful of different synths right now.
What’s the club scene like in NY at the moment?
J: Depends on the night and it depends on the place. NYC is big enough that there are always decent places to go if you know where. On the weekends it can be hard to find them because so many people commute to the city for the nightlife, and they’re there for the scene so much more than for the music. They make a lot of the clubs –especially the bigger rooms – pretty intolerable.
L: Yeah, but if you’re plugged into the scene you’re always able to find good parties.
You've said you’re trying to spread the indie-electro sound in NY in response to the dominant hard house and prog trance scene there. What’s the inspiration behind that?
L: I don’t really have the energy for that kind of music.
J: I’ve actually got nothing against hard house or progressive trance music. A lot of it is really good, and when I’m in Europe or even Canada I like going to see a lot of that stuff. But the scene around that music here in NYC is kind of becoming a parody of itself – everyone’s there for the bottle service or for the drugs, and that’s fine, but it just seems like no one’s really there for the music.
How’d the Arlo & Esme residency crop up?
L: We were looking for a place to get our music out, and Arlo & Esme is a really cool room we found ourselves going to anyway. The owner Gage dug our music so we started putting something together there.
J: Yeah it was all pretty organic.
Your latest mix is mostly soft electro-pop in comparison to your previous mix. Is there a reason? Do you think bangers have had their day?
J: Not really. We put out our previous mix at the end of the summer here, so it kind of made sense for it to be a little more up. The most recent mix just seemed to fit with how we were feeling at the time we made it.
L: Yeah, it kind of just worked out that way - we don’t really spend too much time thinking about that kind of stuff.
Which producers/bands are on your radar for 2010?
J: We’re both kind of into all different stuff. When I’m not working on music or trying to find new stuff to spin I’ll spend a lot of time listening to indie-rock stuff – bands like The Rural Alberta Advantage, Liam Finn, The Dutchess & the Duke, The Tellers, Marina & the Diamonds, The Xx and The Pixies. I’m also really digging a lot of Kid Cudi’s stuff.
L: Cavaliers of Fun, Discovery, Russ Chimes, Chiddy Bang, Coconut Records, Wolfgang Gartner, Miike Snow, Sebastian Tellier, People Under the Stairs. Too much good stuff to name.
If you had to incorporate lyrics from your fave song/s into a pick-up line, what would you say?
L: “That’s the first thing I say to you – how’s it goin’? Are you flowin’? Listen honey, thinkin’ ‘bout a couple things to say to you. Showin’, growin’. And I’d like to place my hands upon your fuckin’ sexy ass and squeeze, and squeeze.”
J: I can’t wait to see you use that one this weekend.
(Pretty) Girls & Lasers Late 2009 Mix Part 1
(Pretty) Girls & Lasers Late 2009 Mix Part 2
tracklist in the comments for all you curious souls..