This year Vivian Girls released Share The Joy, their most ambitious and fulfilling album to date. Frontwoman Cassie Ramone was kind enough to lend us some of her time for an interview. We asked her about the band's progression, the relevance of the album cover, side projects and more.
In addition to her involvement with Vivian Girls, she is also a part of the band the Babies and a talented artist on the side.
Your most recent album Share The Joy is lovely. It has a real 60s girl group feel about it. Were you and the band inspired by much from that era, or did the album just evolve that way?
We were definitely inspired by a lot of music from the 60s, especially girl groups. We're also inspired by a lot of other different types of music, mainly moody punk and garage rock, which I think comes out in our music more a lot of the time. But we consider the 60s pop elements and the more rock 'n' roll stuff to be kind of a yin and yang, a balancing act. I don't think our music would work as well if we just had one and not the other.
Share The Joy is a breakaway from the band's previous efforts. The fuzz and DIY feel has diminished. In a way, it's almost a re-invention. Fiona is also in Coasting, Katy has La Sera and you are with The Babies. Do you think this dissociation for each of you from the Vivian Girls has proven to be beneficial?
To be completely honest I'm not sure. There is a part of me that wishes we had stuck together as a unified team, but at the same time that is not how the planets were aligned for it to happen. There are pros and cons to every situations, and I think that the experience that we have gained through playing other kinds of music with other people were beneficial for all of us individually but perhaps not as beneficial for the well-being of the band. C'est la vie.
We were particularly engaged with the video for 'Take It As It Comes'. Who came up with the concept for the video? We loved the decorated bedroom and especially The Cure poster. Did you three help design the set?
Travis the director and I came up with the concept together. The video was more or less inspired by Desperately Seeking Susan and this album cover (Alisha, pictured below on the left), and late 80s sitcoms. A set designer put the rooms together, but Katy and I added a lot of our own touches to each room. All the drawings on the walls are ours!
Do you find it difficult playing in two bands? Have you sometimes written songs and wondered which band it would suit better? Or do you sit down with the straight up intention of writing a song for Vivian Girls as opposed to The Babies?
I rarely write songs for the Babies, because it's not my primary outlet. Almost all of my songs which have been used in the Babies was a matter of circumstance. I find it counter-intuitive to write for anything in particular. I just play and see what happens - and usually what happened has been applicable to Vivian Girls. There are certain things that are like, oh this couldn't be a Vivian Girls song, because it's either too minimalistic or would require an important second guitar part, but usually it has worked out.
Do you have a favourite song to play live at the moment?
'Sixteen Ways' and 'Before I Start To Cry'.
Have you heard any albums this year that have blown you away? What are they and are there any bands that have intrigued you recently?
I really love Widowspeak's debut album - they are really good friends of mine and I'm so amazed at how great their album turned out. The new Girls album Father, Son, Holy Ghost is great. White Fence - Is Growing Faith. Hunx and His Punx - Too Young To Be In Love. I really like this band Dutch Treat from Brooklyn. They don't have an album out yet but I think when they release one it's going to blow minds.
Besides music you are also a talented illustrator. Is illustration your speciality, do you work with any other mediums? How do music and art relate for you and do you feel as though the album cover is losing relevance in today's computer driven music world?
I don't think the album cover is losing relevance but I do feel as though the current trend with album artwork is to make something that'll look good as a 100x100 jpeg, as opposed to something that'll look good as an LP. One thing that I really can't stand (for the most part) are album covers that are just a photo, with no writing on the cover. I get the reasoning behind that, but do you really think that your LP artwork is so iconic that ten years down the line, when it's in the used bin at a record store, it'll be easily that recognizable? Just a gripe that I have but occasionally it works, I guess. Anyway, I like to dabble in pretty much all mediums! Drawing is my forte, but I also sculpt, paint, and silkscreen occasionally. I used to want to be a fashion designer, but my mom talked me out of it. Music and art are totally intertwined. I can't imagine a world with one and not the other.
I watched a video a while back where you were discussing your love of Project Runway. Have you been keeping up with this season? We think Anya has a good chance of winning.
I haven't been keeping up with this season that much because I don't have cable. But I did watch a few episodes at my parents' house, and I LOVED Anya's stuff! And her hair is amazing!