Brooklyn indie duo Drug Couple is a band marked by a series of contradictory facets. The band’s members, Miles and Becca (themselves a couple) are willing to talk about their past projects, while hesitant to delve into the specific details (or even provide their surnames). Becca is ever the optimist, while Miles is a pessimist to his core. Most notably, their forthcoming EP seeks to reconcile the process of finding love and romantic companionship in a time when the End seems increasingly Nigh.
After sitting down with Miles and Becca in their Bed-Stuy apartment last weekend, however, I came to understand that these opposing parts represent a sort of harmony, an element key to understanding the band’s sound and ethos. Miles and Becca find that their respective personalities provide a necessary balance to their home life, and are able to recognize their music and relationship as something beautiful that exists despite our increasingly precarious political climate.
Following the release of their debut EP Little Hits, I interviewed Drug Couple to better understand their relationship, their politics, and what we can expect from their forthcoming sophomore effort, Choose Your Own Apocalypse.
Q: So the two of you met at Brooklyn recording studio The CRC, where Miles was working as a producer for Becca’s old band. Can you tell me about that meeting, and how your relationship progressed. Did the music come before your relationship, or vice-versa?
A: Miles: The music definitely came before the relationship. Becca was in a band with my old next-door neighbor. I hadn’t seen him for years, and one day he showed up at the studio and played some demos, and I was like, “Oh, I see what you’re trying to do here.” But what he was playing me didn’t have Becca on it at all.
Becca: The demos had a previous lead singer on them. So we came in to the CRC, did some demos—
Miles: And I was like, “Oh my god, this is really cool, I’m really into it.” And what I was into is what she was bringing to the band. So part of us working together was convincing Becca she was a songwriter.
Becca: I had been writing songs for a long time, but I didn’t flex that muscle a ton, and didn’t really think of myself in those terms. And Miles really encouraged me to occupy that space. As soon as we started working together, we really clicked on a creative level. From early on it was clear that we had this really great collaborative relationship.
Miles: Not that long after, we broke for Thanksgiving, I stayed in New York and started mixing those demos while Becca went up to Vermont, and, y’know, I started forming a crush on this young woman who was writing these really compelling songs. So we had a production meeting and at some point I believe I said I had an “art crush” on you.
Becca: At that point, we realized we work so well together, we have a great collaboration, we should start a project ourselves. That was four years ago.
Miles: Since then we recorded a 16-song album, which we cut down into two EPs.
Q: Regarding the new EP, Little Hits, you described your music as “an attempt to showcase a dialogue between genders, as opposed to one side soliloquies.” Could you speak more to this point?
A: Miles: When we first started thinking about the idea, I was tired of bands comprised of men, specifically white men. I just no longer find it compelling, and I don’t know that it’s relevant. I also spent a lot of time as a solo artist, which is this incredibly insular, navel-gazing, staring-in-the-mirror thing. Which can be inspiring, but I feel like the end result of that is hating everything you make, because there’s too much of yourself in it.
Becca: I think doing things where it’s just you, it’s really easy to enter into this space where you either think, “Oh, this is really great” or, “Oh, is this terrible?” And I don’t feel that way when we write stuff because it’s not just me that’s reflected there, it’s you too — and I love you.
Miles: It creates this back and forth that feels more interesting, that has more staying power. I like it four years later, in a way that I don’t always like the things that I was thinking four years ago. And it’s richer.
Becca: And from a practical perspective, there’s two of us, and we have our own distinct perspectives, and sharing that space with Miles really elevates what I can do. It makes me better, I think it makes us both better.
Q: The sense I get is that this dynamic between the two of you amplifies your joint output.
A: Miles: Really, if I start a song on my own or Becca starts a song on her own and we run it through our filter [by playing together], it comes out as a Drug Couple song.
Q: Besides the music, there’s another component of your relationship, in both the title of the EP, as well as the name of the band, which is drugs.
A: Becca: What!
Q: Yes, what a shocker. From your press release, you’ve indicated a mutual appreciation of LSD, especially given the cover art for the Little Hits EP is sheets of acid—
A: Miles: Well I will just say we think the name speaks for itself. I will say when we came up with the name it was very early on in the Trump era, before he was elected when Jeff Sessions was a person who was hanging around with him. We’re part of a culture that felt a little defiant about that. Like, yeah, y’know, we smoke a lot of pot. We’ll leave it at that.
Q: You cite your primary influences as Yo La Tengo, and Dinosaur Jr. Were there any non-musical influences or cultural touchstones that informed this project?
A: Miles: With naming the band Drug Couple, we’ve got a little bit of revolutionary in us. We have fairly radical politics; I’m very heavily invested in politics.
Becca: Miles still talks about running for office, and I feel like that’s something that could happen down the line. Drug Couple 2020.
Q: You’ve indicated a desire to release your music “before the impending armageddon,” and your new EP is billed on the premise of “finding someone special to share the end times with.” How does that shared existential dread affect your music?
A: Becca: For our second EP, Choose Your Own Apocalypse, we had started playing around with the idea of finding love in the time of the apocalypse right around the time that we had started writing together, which was around the 2016 election. So we have a lot of unreleased songs that kind of play on that theme and that concept. I think it just felt like a natural theme — it didn’t feel we were going to “explore” it, it was like, “Oh, everything’s going to shit.”
Miles: It’s like, “Oh, the climate’s getting worse and Donald Trump is gonna be president, so we’re not gonna make it, I guess.”
Becca: But amidst all that horrible shit, we met, and started doing something beautiful.
Miles: And at the same time, things have not necessarily gotten better; they seem to be getting worse. But we’re planning to get married this summer. I would like to start a family —the EP kind of deals with, how do you square that with the fact that, as a species, we’re kind of tying a bow on our own existence?
Q: That’s interesting, because It doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of pessimism in your music.
A: Becca: Well, I wouldn’t say that we are pessimistic.
Miles: Which is funny, because I am definitely a pessimist. Which is the difference between the two of us, because I’m never disappointed—
Becca: And I’m an optimist, which means I’m always disappointed. And we meet somewhere in the middle.
Q: One of my favorite tracks on Little Hits is “Be In 2,” because the narrative splits the difference between talking about a relationship and slightly cryptic, almost metaphysical phrases. What informed the writing of that song?
A: Becca: For that particular song, we sat down in my barn in Vermont and wrote it together, in that room, start to finish. We’re writing that way more and more. The actual content of the song was about the impossible things you ask someone that you’re in a relationship to do, that you ask of each other.
Miles: “Be In 2” is essentially about asking someone to be in two places. There’s an impossible aspect of love. It’s so grandiose, but we’re small people, and we’re flawed. And when you fall in love with someone, it’s this great thing that you’re asking someone to carry for you, and it’s preposterous. It’s an insane thing.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity