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Yes In My Backyard is a semiweekly column showcasing MP3s from new and emerging local talent.
New York’s super-funky disco exports (see Invisible Conga People, Escort) just got maybe their most luscious addition yet. Not to be confused with YIMBY favorite Ava Luna, Avan Lava is lush, sparkling, Italo-fried duo courtesy of Fischerspooner bassist Le Chev and the Princely pipes of newcomer Tom Hennes. Their debut EP, Vapors, was just self-released digitally; a few rare physical copies, encased in painted wood, are currently floating around New York’s record store hotspots. With Hennes’s vocals in the forefront doing wildly funky, Erasure-evoking falsettos and Le Chev’s music blipping along in epileptic harmony, it would be easy to paint these guys as the joyous sons of Jamie Lidell. But Avan Lava’s textures are more euphoric than headknocking — their relentless grooves also evoke a love of things like Sigur Ros, Sea Change-era Beck, Beach House, and other feel-good blasts. The EP’s closing track “The Easy Way” is a little more on the retro-futuristic side, working a little electro-soul into a boinging bassline, a stuttering drum part, and a Dirty Mind-style hook.
Q&A with Avan Lava’s Le Chev:
What is “The Easy Way” about?
We will never tell specifically what any of our songs are about. It would ruin your whole experience. But here’s a hint: American youth obsession, life, grim futures.
What inspired it, musically?
At the time I was listening to The Clash on repeat. They’re incredible at using major chords and getting the same power as minor chords. So I wanted to write something like that, but I didn’t have a guitar, I had to make the beat with my friend’s keyboard and flip-flop [laptop]. Also, if Vapors was an audio meal, it needed some dessert. “The Easy Way” is the nice treat at the end.
Tell me about starting on borrowed gear.
We wanted to record an album, but we didn’t have any money or instruments or microphones or a computer. So we had to borrow everything from our friends, and trade favors to get access to equipment. My roommate at the time was a sound engineer with a microphone and computer, so I would sneak into his room when he was gone and work on the beats. When he got annoyed, I started going to my other friend’s place who had some keyboards. I would stay up all night experimenting with headphones on and then I would get her a coffee in the morning. Then, I would go to my other friends to do some mixing, and trade him by playing bass on his tracks. We had to use four different friends computers to record everything, so when we showed up to do the mixing in LA some of the files were missing. We had to redo all the vocals for the track “Sooner or Later” in 20 minutes. Good thing Tom can actually sing. It makes it a little more difficult to not own things, but whenever you get you hands on something, it’s like having an affair, and Vapors is full of these.
What’s your favorite recorded instance of bass slapping ever?
I love disco funk, so this is tough. Cerrone, the Quincy Jones of Europe in my opinion, “You Are The One” , bass by Sauveur Malia. His tone is so incredible.
Why and how did you make a wooden version of your record?
Physical forms of music like CDs and vinyl records are just for collectors now. Everyone has their music as digital files and only buy these things as a novelty. So, we wanted to make something different that had the same “collector” appeal. We made these wooden cut outs that are the exact same size as CD’s and records, so they would fit on the shelf at the record store, and people could have the physical connection that comes with touching or holding a record. We only made 100 of those. I think physical albums are going to become fun objects with a download code. They could be anything you can put a sticker on. Record shops will look like toy stores.
What’s the best show you ever played in New York?
I played at Music Hall of Williamsburg with Fischerspooner and Madonna was staring at me from the balcony. Locking eyes with her I thought, “I should ask her on a date.” But then her security team whisked her out before I got to! Next time…
What’s your favorite place to eat in Brooklyn?
That’s easy, Pies n’ Thighs. It’s the go to.
Avan Lava play Joe’s Pub on May 21.