Category Archives: Amy Haley

I SPY, WITH MY LITTLE EYE, SOUTH BY

Ever since oh, age 28, it’s always the same for me.

Two weeks before SXSW: “You guys, I am so over South By.”

Week of SXSW: “I’ve RSVP’d here and here and here and here and here and HERE!!!”

Heh.

We locals like to be smug, but when it comes right down to it, the SX bug is tough to shake once you’ve been bit. Yes, the marketing is rid-ic-ulous. Yes, your soul dies a bit each time you agree to don a promotional Kleenex™ fanny pack in exchange for free Perez party tickets or whatever. And yes, there’s always that inevitable day when you, my whimsical music lover you, are strolling from party to party in a kicky straw hat minding your own business, when either the temperature drops or the heavens open (because it is, after all, spring in Austin) and you find yourself drenched/freezing underneath the Yahoo! Soundz! tent between acts, sobbing to yourself, “I w-w-want to be at home with mah kittyyyyy!

They’re all occupational SX hazards, and this year — a more chill SX for me personally, since I don’t have any freelance gigs lined up — I thought, ok. You know what? I think I’ll just sit this one out. I’m in the home stretch of yoga teacher training, I’ve got a silks show coming up, and I’m just going to relax! Amy will bring me back all her fun little SX stories. I’ll watch from the sidelines. There will be no wristbands. Or spreadsheets.

And then…

I was walking on the east side yesterday, visiting some friends at Giant Noise. They were having a cute little office party, so I popped in for a hot second, and when I left, I promise you I meant to walk straight back to my car and drive home.

But instead, I strolled around a bit.

Guys, what is it about the east side and SX?

I know I’m teetering on the very edge of growing out of it, but that pre-SX Music energy on the east side, when signs are being hoisted up and bands are loading in and neon-clad hipsters are skipping around still makes me giddy. Is it nostalgia? Anticipation? Appreciation of the fact that folks so brazenly day drink on this week?

It’s like we, everyone who participates in SX, all buckles down in this interesting cultural/futurist/celebrity nexus for a week, and as Austinites, we play hostess. And you know what? Even though I don’t mean to, I guess I still kind of get a rush from all that. Our little Austin! Blows my mind every time.

At some point, a truck pulled up next to me on Waller. An older guy leaned out his car window and asked, “hey girl. Where you from?”

“Here,” I answered. “I’m from here.”

Images via me on Instagram, Amy on Instagram, and my dear friend Christa on Instagram

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BRUSHING UP ON SOCIAL STUDIES [BAND INTERVIEW]

IMAGE // Via Antenna Farm Records

Hi friends! Amy here.

You may not know this about me, but I’m big into personification. For example, what would I be like if I were a city? What would I sound like if I were a band? Hopefully, I’d sound like this.

That’s Social Studies, who just so happens to be from San Francisco — my heart’s capitol.

The band members are SXSW veterans, but if you like what you heard, you don’t have to wait that long to see them. That’s because they’re in Austin tomorrow night for a show at the Mohawk, opening for Ramona Falls (who, PS, has a creepy, awesome, Beatrix Potter-on-acid music video you might like).

We asked them if they’d like to chat with AE beforehand, and they said yes! So here is my little Q&A with the smart, sweet members of Social Studies:

1. Try as I might, it’s a bit difficult to fit you into the parameters of any one particular genre — which is great. I’ve heard you describe your own music as “classical dressed up as pop.” Elaborate?

The funniest thing is to hear the kinds of comparisons we get after a show, from Dolly Parton to My Bloody Valentine, to Beach House to Television. We’ve never had a clearly defined genre that we’ve gone for, and our musical tastes are incredibly diverse, so it’s sort of a natural result. We write music in a truly collaborative fashion that allows us to blend ideas that don’t necessarily seem like they would fit initially.

2. As self-described history nerds who “take a bit of a literary and academic approach to music,” what subject matter are you reading or watching right now? I’m specifically thinking of your latest album (Developer) and how it was influenced by things you’re reading/seeing/hearing.

The lyrics of Developer are actually more personal than on our last record, Wind Up Wooden Heart, which took a pretty macro view of human nature. The concept behind these songs was to explore the texture and images of very personal moments as if they were works of art. I was heavily inspired by poetry, particularly Joseph Stroud’s “Of this World”, Pablo Neruda, and Rumi.

3. How do your personal relationships affect Social Studies’ sound?

Playing music is an intimate experience so it’s important to work with people you love. We’ve gone through some lineup changes and have finally settled into a solid foundation. It’s been important for us to create positive musical and interpersonal chemistry — and it’s a dream to still play music with some of our oldest friends. A lot of kids play music in high school and talk about doing it forever. It’s such a special experience to look up on stage and see that commitment come into fruition. This closeness allows us to take risks, musically and emotionally.

4. Can you talk a bit about the actual recording process itself? Is it true producer your Eli Crews would have you record a song in its entirety a few times over then pick the best option…mistakes and all?

Catching the mood and scale of our live show guided a lot of our decisions with Eli. Picking whole takes, recording in analog…those all followed naturally from the desire to try and capture a performance rather than cutting and pasting to get some ‘perfect’ result. Eli was instrumental in creating a really comfortable environment, pushing us to get good performances, and translating our sonic ideas into tangible engineering decisions.

5. I’m curious: Where did your band name come from?

The process was one of elimination. We wanted something that referenced high-school, but also had several layers of meaning and possible interpretations. Other contenders were The Wildcats and Amityville Bakesale!

6. “Amityville Bakesale!” That is awesome.

I feel like Austin and San Francisco are similar in that they’re both cities comprised of non-locals. There’s this lovely melding of cultures and walks of life which all contribute to the overall vibe of the city. Would you all ever consider relocating to the “Live Music Capital of the World” or do you have your sights set on any other parts of the globe?

We love coming back to Austin, we always have a great time there! We’ve talked about relocating, and have standing offers from Chicago and New York to make those cities our home, but San Francisco is such a unique place, it’s difficult to imagine living anywhere else! Some of us would love to move to Paris for a while, or to the woods around Chapel Hill, North Carolina…but for now, San Francisco is our home.

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Thank you, Social Studies!

If you, like me, enjoy smugly bragging that you were into so-and-so band before they were huge (“seriously you guys, I saw Coldplay when they were in JUNIOR HIGH”), then let’s go see this one together, because I predict big things for Social Studies. Tickets for tomorrow night’s show are available right here!

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LOVE IS A MIXTAPE: KISS FROM A ROSE EDITION

IMAGE // Via Kristin Cofer

So, Amy made this awesome love mix for everyone, and I promise we’re going to get to it in a second.

But this morning, we were g-chatting about something else.

Do you have any love songs from the 90s that just…get you?

True, I hear them often enough being debased through the overhead grocery store speakers, or playing softly at my dentist’s office.

But I also listen to them in the privacy of my own home.

That’s because they are amazing.

One of these enduring melodies is “Kissed From a Rose.”

This song immediately transports me through time and space to my 8th grade dance, when I swayed with Whit Jones to the soaring vocals of Seal, wearing a brand new mock turtleneck from the Gap and feeling cocky because my braces had just come off.

I didn’t get kissed that night — from a rose or anybody — but I would get kissed soon. My braceless teeth would make men weak at the knees!

Amy, however, remembers a different song from that time. A song that is sort of about love, but also about territory, because when Monica is putting the moves on your man you just need to tell her to STEP OFF (if you are Brandy, that is).

This song reminds me of walking into the 5-7-9 and feeling sassy.

But the ultimate love song crew, in my opinion, is someone we’ve talked about before.

I always got soooo embarrassed when this song came on in the car and I was driving with my parents, because the Boyz were talking about SEX! And it’s against all natural laws to listen to songs about sex with your parents.

But nevertheless, this song ended up on many a mixtape, sandwiched between some Mariah and some Garth Brooks. My tastes were eclectic.

Do you have any 90s love songs that still get to you? In a non-ironic way?

I mean, I laugh now at Kid N’ Play, but I’m very serious when “More Than Words” comes on.

Even more serious for Color Me Badd.

(Special thank you to Amy for creating a great love song mix for us below, which is firmly rooted in 2010′s.)

VD by Amy Haley on Grooveshark

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INTERVIEW: GOD-DES AND SHE

IMAGE // Via God-Des and She

A few weeks ago I (Amy) was taking in a Big Freedia show, and over the course of an hour, had twerked to the point of physical exhaustion. I honestly don’t know how Beyonce does it.

But instead of going home and collapsing into bed, I found myself at the Mohawk just in time for a different act — lesbian music duo, God Des and She. I’ve never really been a hip hop fan, but quickly found myself falling in love with their sound and (to the chagrin of my lower back) DANCING! You just can’t argue with stuff like this:

I mean…right?

Not only has God-Des and She shared stages with the likes of Salt N’ Pepa (!) and Amanda Blank, and not only have they had a cameo on The L-Word, but their advocacy for gay rights and equality has been at the core of their 10+ year career. These Austin locals are now about to release a new album, and with a CD release party this Saturday, I thought this would be an opportune time to sit down for a little chat…

1. You two have been bandmates and friends for over 11 years. How did that affect your creative process? Was it pretty collaborative or did you each bring your own independent influences to this fourth album?

Ha! You know, I’m actually surprised we haven’t gotten divorced yet! In all seriousness, we actually have learned to work together better with each new project. This record was done together. We talked about the topics, the style, and helped each other out if we were stuck on something.

2. It seems a lot of folks share my affinity for the track “I Want it Back.” I understand it’s a very personal number. Could you tell us a bit about that?

Well, I God Des, lost my dad to cancer nearly two years ago. I made the beat one day and the song started to write itself. I never actually intended to release it at all. I was just writing about my experience dealing with — and processing — such deep loss. When I played it for She, she was really affected by it and wanted to write to it as well. After I heard what She had done, we knew we had to share it with people. We debuted it at a show this summer and had an overwhelming response. Countless people come up to us after the show thanking us for that song. So we decided to produce it and put on the record.

3. I was floored after watching your first video release from this album, “God, I Know You Love Me,” after it premiered on AfterEllen. It’s very visually impactful. What was the inspiration?

We wanted to show the brutal truth of what many gay people face trying to make sense of being both gay and religious. The self doubt and fear is STRONG. And so many religious institutions openly condemn gay folks. We hope we bring visibility to this issue and empower queer people to be comfortable and happy with who they are.

4. I so admire your advocacy. How do you envision the spread of your message over the next year? Are there any organizations or nonprofits, LGBT or otherwise, that you’d like to work with?

We have contacted quite a few LGBTQ organizations to let them know that we admire them and are down to help in any way we can. We have met with LPAC, HRC, Trevor Project and many more. We are committed to using our voice to forge change and to bring equality to our country.

5. So after all this hard work on on such a lively and thoughtful record, you are having a CD release at Holy Mountain this Saturday! Tell us a bit about it?

This Saturday is going to be a blast. We have a few really fun covers planned and if you have never seen Las Krudas you are in for a treat, they are amazing. I am excited for people to be able to take pictures with the giant tongue from our “Lick It” video. The icing on the cake is going to be burlesque troupe the Southern Sirens. Let’s just be honest, who doesn’t love boobies?

6. You both moved to Austin from Madison and Brooklyn, so I have no doubt you now live a blissful, beer- and BBQ-fueled lifestyle. What’s your favorite food trailer and/or dive bar here in town?

I have a couple spots I really like. I love the Red Shed, strong cheap drinks and a good jukebox. The Brixton is always fun on the east side. I love the food truck Chilantro. Korean-Mexican fusion and amazing. I also love the Kebabalicious spot out side the Rusty Spur. I feel like Goldie Locks. Madison WI, my home town, was too small, NYC was too big; Austin, Texas is just right. It’s like Madison and New York had a baby and they named her Austin. I love it here.

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Well there we have it, folks. Move over Carnaval…God Des and She are about to blow the roof off! Tickets to Saturday’s show are available here.

Many thanks to God Des and She for sitting down with AE. See you girls around!

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NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION #1: COOK MORE (GIVEAWAY!)

When I was a little kid, my mom used to bake pans of tuna fish casserole that I thought were just to die for.

“Mom-my! Can you please make tuna fish casserole tonight!” I’d ask.

“No, honey, Daddy’s making dinner,” she’d say, gesturing to my father’s in-process spaghetti.

“Please please please pleasepleaseplease-”

“We’ll have it later this week-”

“PUH-LEASE!

She smiled. “Ok,” she’d acquiesce. “Tomorrow. I’ll make tuna fish casserole tomorrow.”

There is something incredibly comforting about casseroles, their rising heat and gooey masses. I loved the way the bread crumbs crunched on top of the tuna fish casserole, and all those slick noodles buried inside. I confess I’m not much of a casserole queen myself, or even a cook at all, really. My cooking impulses are fleeting and passing, though I can competently whip up a few staples: Pan-seared tilapia, seafood gumbo, chocolate cake. Chocolate cake is a staple.

But this year, I might actually attempt to cook more. Especially since I know so many good cooks!  Cooks like these two lovely ladies:

Did you know that the Casserole Queens — my fellow Hungry Channel show hosts — are from Austin? Their recent cookbook is a New York Times bestseller.

If “cooking more” is also one of your New Year’s resolutions, Austin Eavesdropper is giving away a copy today! Amy and I drooled over some of the recipes over the weekend:

And because casseroles are potentially messy business — especially if, like your humble blogger, you’re a little wild with the whisk — we are including a cutie pie apron in this giveaway, too.

(Pause: How adorable is Ames? I couldn’t stop taking pictures of her.)

Finally, our winner will also receive a free year’s subscription to Woman’s Day, where the Casserole Queens are monthly contributors! And don’t even pretend like you don’t want to learn how to make their Spiced Cranberry Coffee Cake.

This giveaway will run now through next Monday, January 7! To enter, simply:

1. “Like” Austin Eavesdropper on Facebook (if you haven’t already),

2. “Like” Casserole Queens on Facebook,

Et voila! You are entered.

Just for fun, you can also tell us what your favorite casserole is in the comment section below. Doing so or not won’t affect your entry…I’m mostly curious if anyone out there holds the same affection for tuna fish casserole that I do.

Good luck!

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