You remember last year on X Factor when that kooky Scottish bellend sang “Cry Baby” and every idiot across the country lost their minds for a split second, before realising she was insipid sub-musical theatre trash? I want to round all of those people up and stick them in a Deap Vally gig. Two women, one guitar, one drumkit, and a sound like a cross between Janis Joplin, The Black Keys and the Devil herself. For two people, there’s an awfully big sound to get behind here. “End Of The World” begins with scuzzy, heavy guitars and Lindsay Troy’s rallying cry: “Come on everybody, listen up!” It’s raw, but it’s tight. It’s unhinged, but it’s brilliantly structured. It’s the blues, but it’s the blues brought right up to date. When the song really kicks into gear, the crowd explode.
600 people heaved and sweated around Camden’s dingy Dingwalls jostling for the best view of this hot new duo, safe in the knowledge that, with a tour opening for Mumford & Sons next on the horizon, they wouldn’t be returning to such intimate surroundings for quite some time. So, is there a difference between playing to 600 sweaty blokes in Camden and to thousands of indie-folkers?
“It’s a different approach,” singer and guitarist Lindsay says, “the smaller club shows that are all about us we can go deep with our material. When we’re playing for thousands of brand new people we like to ease them in a little bit more.” Drummer Julie Edwards adds, “Also, on a wardrobe tip, my more adventurous things I save for the bigger shows...my weird dresses with built in mid-riffs and stuff. Basically I was wearing a lot of cleavage the other night and we met this awesome 14 year old girl who was a fan, and I totally felt like a jerk...it seemed silly to have my boobs out at that moment.”
“No she probably felt empowered!” Lindsay protests! These girls got each others’ backs, and they’re in illustrious company when it comes to female rock and rollers – Joplin, PJ Harvey, Joan Jett, Patti Smith...how much of an inspiration were they?
“When I was growing up my inspirations were a mixture of classic Rock people and what was going on in the 90s, so, Janis Joplin, Courtney Love, Gwen Stefani, Fiona Apple...when I was coming of age that’s what I was listening to.”
So, old school R&B, 90s grunge...and knitting?
“We do a LOT of knitting, we both have knitting with us – I learned crochet first from Julie, and then got onto knitting.” Rock and roll can come from all manner of things it seems.
“We really love blues as the stepping stone into rock and roll,” Lindsay says, Julie going on to name check Robert Johnson, Blind Willie McTell and Son House before switching the music in the dressing room to some old Depression-era Johnson tunes. “All those dudes are so sick...that’s the ultimate singer/songwriter right there, they really know how to make so much noise with just one person.”
Deap Vally are the latest in a long line of bands to be reviving the genre. Alabama Shakes’ recent album was heavily rooted in the blues and old-school R&B, and Seasick Steve became a huge festival hit hammering away on his 3-stringed guitar. Julie and Lindsay are keen to pay tribute to Jack White as a real champion of the music, and the two-piece have been compared in print to The White Stripes on more than one occasion, though probably due to their band setup rather than any glaring musical similarities. These girls are their own beast, make no mistake about that, and having just signed to Communion, the same label that launched Michael Kiwanuka and Ben Howard into the musical stratosphere, you’re sure to be hearing a lot more of them.