New Myths, made up of Rosie Slater on drums, Marina Ross on bass, and Brit Boras on guitar, claim to blend electronic elements with “fuzzy guitars and haunting vocal melodies,” and pull it off. They released their first album, Give Me Noise, in 2014, and got some nice CMJ write-ups that year from both The New York Times and The Guardian.
I caught them on Friday at the Atypical Sounds Day Party in Austin, after a loud set by New York’s Mainland, mere hours before their official SXSW showcase. The event was at Darwin’s, a sports bar, and when the band opened with three-part vocals over a bass drum, the effect was immediately theatrical.
The vocals are almost too good to be called rock n’ roll. While Boras takes point, the distinctive overall flavor is a blend of the three voices, which become a personality—almost like the Cocteau Twins, or a K-pop girl band. Some of their songs could be the soundtrack to a highway drive, one that magically descends into Tokyo, or Vice City from Grand Theft Auto.
After New Myths was forced to cancel their SXSW sendoff show at the Mercury Lounge, I chatted with them via email to talk to these native New Yorkers about what’s happening to their city and their music scene.
Brit: Marina and I both lived in Manhattan and Rockland County at different times. I also lived in New Jersey for a period. Rosie grew up in Westchester. We all also went to college in the city—Rosie and I went to NYU, and Marina went to FIT.
Brit: It’s definitely sad to see areas of New York change and aspects of them begin to disappear. Just today, I was walking around St. Marks and it was so strangely different from the last time I’d walked around that area even just a couple months ago. There were new buildings and lots of corporate chains had moved into the once independently-owned shops, definitely a bummer to see things like that happen.
What’s really been hard for us as a band has been seeing all the major Manhattan and Brooklyn venues start to vanish. Most of our favorite clubs have been shut down or bought out. As sad as it is to see a venue close though, another one always opens in its place, because the demand for them here is so high. Right now the venues seem to be getting pushed farther out into Brooklyn but I think everything will start moving back into Manhattan eventually and the cycle will start again. There will always be real estate trends but those keep changing with time.
Rosie, do you still play with Darlene Love?
Rosie: I was in her band for about five years, but left Darlene a little while ago to focus on New Myths. It was a really amazing experience touring and recording with her. She has unbelievable energy on stage, it’s infectious! I learned how to “leave it all on the stage,” as she says, and for that I’m really grateful. She was very encouraging and was a great role model as far as being an incredibly strong female artist. As a member of her band I was immersed in so much music that I might not have encountered otherwise, from Phil Spector classics to contemporary Gospel. It was also a really exciting time to be with her because she was being inducted into the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame, was in the film, Twenty Feet from Stardom, and was starting to work on the album with Steve Van Zandt. It was a total trip and I’m so glad I got to be a part of it!
Brit: Ha! Our band basically happened cause I was watching Spinal Tap and it made me want to start a new band. At the time I had just graduated from music school and was so sick of playing with dudes and feeling like the “chick in the band,” so I decided the only way I wouldn’t feel like the “chick in the band” would be to start a band with other “chicks.” I’m glad I did, cause it rules so hard.
I love that you released the new record, Give Me Noise, on vinyl. Are you safely in the camp of “sounds better on vinyl?” Or did you just want to create a beautiful object as well as an audio recording?
Brit: I love listening to records because it feels more tangible. Not only is the sound warmer, but the act of picking the record, appreciating the cover, taking it out of its case and placing the needle on the record is such a huge part of the whole experience for me. I also like that it forces you to listen to the album in its entirety and not just skip around the tracks.
Rosie: Yeah, definitely what Brit said. It turns listening to an album into an experience. I’ve grown up looking through my parents’ and grandparents’ record collections, but never thought we’d have our own! It was so exciting to get the first copies!
Marina: I freakin’ love it. I’ve been listening to her records since I was a kid, so being associated with her makes my four-year-old self jump up and down with excitement when mom’s in the other room.
You headlined a show at Rough Trade right after Blackstar was released and Bowie died. Did that hit you? Was it weird?
Rosie: We actually played the day Blackstar was released, and Rough Trade was having a huge birthday party/record release event before the show. I am a HUGE Bowie fan and I think I was almost more excited for the Bowie celebration! We were shocked to hear that he had died. More so than other musicians, David Bowie always just seemed other-worldly. He had a huge influence on me and will continue to, and I’m so glad we had spent the day before celebrating him.