SADGIRL: CRISP AND REFRESHING
photography by debi del grande
Inspired by the roots of rock & roll, the sun-soaked surf that crashes against California’s golden coastline, and the possibility of a world that exists parallel to our own, SadGirl’s Misha Lindes crafts music wholly authentic to his own experience. It’s nostalgic for a former era, yet happily relevant to right now, and that’s why this trio has risen from the core of the local DIY scene to become celebrated hometown heroes. I was able to catch frontman and guitarist, graphic designer, and visionary Misha Lindes while lounging at a pool party to discuss SadGirl’s aesthetic, transcendence, and debut album Water—out now on Suicide Squeeze. Their record relase show is Thurs., July 11—get tickets here! This interview by Bennett Kogon.
I love the title of this new record—Water. It makes me think of the summertime and SadGirl is a very summer-y type of band. But what does SadGirl ‘water’ taste like to you?
Misha Lindes (guitar/vocals): It’s crisp and refreshing. Perfectly pH balanced. And it’s always cold.
Your band has a strong aesthetic. Not just musically, but visually as well. It really helps focus the vibe that you’re going for. How do you feel that these other factors contribute to the overall creative output of the band?
Misha Lindes: I’ve always appreciated the mystique of album artwork. You have this opportunity with a music project to create this world where the music exists. It doesn’t have to be existing in reality, necessarily. You can create an aesthetic and make a visual accompaniment to it. It’s so fun and rewarding. I think maybe songwriting and recording is a slower process for me because I feel like everything has to be cohesive. It takes a long time for me to compile everything in a way where I feel like I’ve found a theme that makes sense. Or a world where these songs exist. It makes it an enriching experience. It’s so fun to be able to put on a record, open up the gatefold, and read the lyrics while listening along. You can create these really special, intimate moments and experiences that are personal to you. You get to create that world. A lot of the songs were compiled and recorded over the last couple of years. A few of them are just like, home demos that sort of got polished up and taken into a studio and worked on. Which I’m really stoked on … I like how the whole thing came together because it was a really organic process. It wasn’t a thing where we booked a few days in the studio and cranked it out as fast as we could. I think it’s tough for me to write and record stuff where it feels sort of like an obligation.
I know Water isn’t a concept album, but what is the specific world that you’ve envisioned for it—besides being refreshing and perfectly pH balanced?
Misha Lindes: I think it’s a tiny fraction of my own personal experience of Los Angeles. Part of it is imagination and part of it is real life. It’s kind of an L.A. that doesn’t exist in any particular decade or neighborhood, but rather a semi-fictional version of my interpretation of growing up here. I think probably the best way to describe it is that it’s a parallel universe of Los Angeles within an amalgam of four decades through my own eyes. Or ears.
Did you grow up in a musical household?
Misha Lindes: My dad’s a musician and my mom’s a big music fan. They’re from that era where the most important things in their lives were Elvis and The Beatles. We grew up with a lot of early rock ‘n’ roll. I think they felt somewhat of a responsibility to expose us to what was influential to them as children. My experience growing up was skating, old cars, the beach, graffiti—these are all things that are part of your existence as a teenager in West L.A. There’s something about the West Coast vibe that’s surf, but also soul music and punk. I feel that is L.A.: Beach Boys, the Wrecking Crew, and Dick Dale—fucking California style. My first car when I was nineteen was a 64 Mercury Montclair. It was definitely not the right car to have as your first one. Seriously some of my most fond memories were just driving around in this old car and listening to oldies in it. If I can communicate even like a tiny bit of that experience through my music, I feel like a success.
SadGirl is a contemporary band with a retro style. What elements allow that vintage sound to exist right now?
Misha Lindes: We’re in a very interesting time musically, because essentially every single person has this insane wealth of knowledge of the entire contemporary music history literally in their pockets at all times. So it’s almost like we’re in the era of post-modernism—we’re able to [make] reference, either overtly or otherwise, to music and eras of the past. What makes [SadGirl] contemporary is that we’re making it now. It’s music that’s close to my heart and I’m just trying to make something that feels authentic to me.
When I think about current bands active in our local community, I often think of SadGirl. How has the Los Angeles scene elevated you and inspired you to grow?
Misha Lindes: I genuinely don’t think we could have continued as a band like we have for the last couple of years if it wasn’t for such a supportive and creative community that we’re lucky enough to be involved in here in L.A. When I started the band, I was working a regular day job and sort of feeling kind of depressed that I wasn’t going to make music. I thought I’d just continue playing guitar at home, but I was resigned to the fact that I probably wouldn’t play in a band. When I started getting the project together, it was right when this local DIY scene was taking off. I was working at a screenprinting shop at the time and suddenly having a band was the perfect outlet. I was able to do everything that made me feel personally satisfied. And I definitely wouldn’t have been able to do that if it wasn’t for the amazing people that are all so involved in the community. Pretty much everybody that’s ever been involved with the project has been like, a friend. Most of them are friends that we’ve made playing music in L.A.
It seems like you’ve helped create a friendly atmosphere, too.
Misha Lindes: Once I realized there were people that I didn’t know personally that were interested in the music and who started coming to shows, it was like, ‘Well, fuck—this is actually a big responsibility.’ I remember how important it was for me when I was getting into music as like a teenager. I’m just trying to do the best that I can to make that experience as rewarding and exciting as possible for people that are getting into music.
Your sister [Staz Lindes] plays in the Paranoyds. Do you ever collaborate, or is it strictly your own thing?
Misha Lindes: I feel like we definitely exist within the same world. We share a drummer [David Ruiz] and also a practice space, so it’s pretty much as close as it can get before [we’re] actually making music together. We have worked together in the past, but maybe there’s a little bit of a sibling rivalry thing underlying it. We totally support each other and help each other in any way we can—except for work on music. I’m sure we’ll do it at some point. We’ve talked about releasing a split 45 together for a long time. I’m sure we’ll get that together at some point.
If you and your sister were to form a supergroup tribute band, who would you choose to portray?
Misha Lindes: We’d probably do like, James Brown and David Bowie—something weird like that. Or Smokey Robinson and DEVO. It would be a combo of two bands, like soul mixed with an art-punk group. We did actually put a wedding band together for our drummer David, who got married like two years ago. We picked a bunch of his favorite songs and played them for him at his wedding. And he didn’t know we were going to do it. He didn’t have to drum for us, though.
SADGIRL’S RECORD RELEASE SHOW FOR WATER WITH PINK $OCK AND LA CHAMBA ON FRI., JULY 11, AT THE TERAGRAM BALLROOM, 1234 W. 7TH ST., DOWNTOWN. 9 PM / $16-$18 / ALL AGES. GET TICKETS HERE! SADGIRL’S WATER IS OUT NOW ON SUICIDE SQUEEZE. VISIT SADGIRL AT WEARESADGIRL.COM.