Teengirl Fantasy are friends Nick Weiss and Logan Takahashi who both studied at the Oberlin College in Ohio. The pair are in their early 20s and living in New York, coming up through the same scene that has given birth to notable talents such as Blondes and Hyperdub signee, Laurel Halo.
Influenced by classic house and techno, mixed with a DIY punk sensibility, they very much have a hands on approach to music, preferring to manipulate old analogue gear, rather than sitting at a computer screen moving shapes. Their sophomore album ‘Tracer’ is the next outing for R&S Records and as they comment on the album, “it’s more focused, far-reaching and it takes more risks”, compared to their debut LP, ‘7am’.
Ahead of the release on the 20th August and their performance at this years Exit Festival, we caught up with duo to chat over classic house and techno records, their love for Actress and the current state of pop music in the US.
We’ve read that the relationship between you guys blossomed over a shared love of classic house and techno records. Are there any stand out records from this period?
Nick: We both really love the “Round” series on Main Street Records. Logan has the Round One 12″ and I have Round Two. It’s beautiful to hear Basic Channel working within this housier framework —and those Andy Caine vocals, they really cut through to your heart. The dub versions of the tracks are of course killer as well. Ron Trent & Chez Damier’s KMS054 release is another 12″ I’ve played too many times, the synths are so mournful as well as the male/female vox. Most dubs Marc Kinchen put out in the 90s. This peeks into Garage territory but Roy Davis Jr. – “Gabrielle.” Mr. Fingers – “Closer.” That’s a lot of vocal tracks haha. This is hard to do without looking through my vinyl..
Logan: Theo Parrish- ‘Solitary Flight’, Patrice Scott – ‘Do You Feel Me’, Love Inc-‘Life’s a Gas’…
We are intrigued by the story behind you guys hooking up with R&S, how did this come about and why are they the right ‘home’ for you?
Nick: R&S contacted us a while back. We were initially pretty amazed at their interest in us, just because we take influence from a lot of their backcatalogue. It definitely makes sense as a home for us now. While most of our tracks aren’t totally “functional” dance tracks they definitely have a similar lysergic sheen to the vinyl R&S has been pushing for years.
What is it about Actress’ music you like?
Nick: It really occupies such a specific world that is wholly it’s own. Even when his fidelity switches from super underground bitcrushed to more hifi, you know it’s Actress. His music reaches a very base-level, deep part of my brain. I get sucked inside every time.
Logan: Have been a huge Actress fan for the past couple of years, Darren is killing it. Really blown away by his latest LP especially-don’t really know anyone quite doing what he’s doing right now.
Your forthcoming album ‘Tracer’ blends elements of pop, techno, house, electronica, r&b etc. Did you have any specific aims before making the album?
Nick: Nope. We kind of just set out with a blank slate. We didn’t use samples on this record, which does give it a more specific sound I guess. The blend of many genres is really just because of the wide range of music we listen to. We aren’t genre artists, we try to think outside of it as much as we can, but just everyday listening to all of those types of music of course influences the tracks.
Logan: Having done already done an album I think we went into making this one with a little better of an idea of what we wanted to do at least in terms of sequencing and making a specific sound world.
How does it differ from your first album ‘7AM’?
Nick: Again no samples, much more vocal, and much more carefully crafted. We really put our all into making it a cohesive, strong record that we could be proud of. We spent a lot of time on Tracer and we had some help from some awesome mix engineers.
How would you react to your music being described as pop?
Nick: I would turn on the radio. Sure, it has accessible elements but at least in America the radio is so insanely tuned and tucked. Our music is very loose in a way, I wonder if the greater public is ready for that. Of course I love anything that can really connect with a huge cross-section of people, I think that’s really cool.
Logan: There are definitely a lot of pop elements but neither of us really view this a project as an ‘electronic pop band’ as i’ve sometimes seen us described as.
We’ve had ‘Tracer’ on repeat these last few days, you have a fantastic selection of vocalists on the album, how did these collaborations come about?
Nick: Either from pre-existing friendships or, in Romanthony’s case, a long process of emails and calls.
Logan: We opened for Noah (Panda Bear) two years ago for a show he played on Governor’s Island on 9/11 and that was when we first met him. Later that year we toured with Animal Collective for a couple of weeks in Europe so it was pretty easy to get vocals from him. Laurel and I were room mates in Brooklyn for 7 or 8 months while both of us were working on our upcoming albums so that also felt pretty natural to end up collaborating. We got in touch with Kelela through Dean who does True Panther and ended up hitting it off with her really well. The Romanthony track probably took the longest to fully pin down and basically just took a lot of emailing from us.
How have you found the reception to your music outside of the US and UK?
Logan: Every time we play Mexico the audience feels really receptive and down with our music. Also love playing throughout Europe–Antwerp, Bucharest, Amsterdam, just to name a few, have been really fun to play.
What new music have discovered recently, anything we should know about?
Nick: I’m currently listening to Arca’s upcoming EP, Entro Senestre, and the upcoming Gatekeeper LP.
Logan: The new traxman is great, Laurel’s new record, Mas Ysa, Tezeo.
Whats on your agenda for the coming months, are you in the UK anytime soon?
Nick: We leave for Europe next week. We’ll be playing T in the Park festival in Scotland as well as Corsica Studios in London at the end of the month.
Logan: Coming to Europe this next month of July, will play some shows in the UK while we’re there. Then coming back to US for release of the record.
Interview & words: Josh Thomas
Catch Teengirl Fantasy playing at this years EXIT Festival in Serbia, July 12-15.