LOLAWOLF: "Miley Has A Brain & Isn't Swayed By What People Say"
The Brooklyn trio on meeting, music and Miley Cyrus...
By Holly Rubenstein
New York trio LOLAWOLF are the latest offering from the Brooklyn music scene. Fronted by Zoe Kravitz (star of movies, daughter of Lenny), the band’s debut album Calm Down is out now, with its electro-alt-pop-R&B tones propelling it to the top of every hipster’s Christmas list. MTV UK spoke to the band while they took a break from recording new music in Paris.
MTV UK: How did you all come together as a band?
James Levy: Jimmy (Giannopoulos) was going to art school in the Chelsea district in Manhattan and I live five blocks away, at a coffee shop, where he used to come in. He was friends with Zoe because they used to bike around town together and they would come in together. About a year and a half ago we decided to record songs. We set up and do it whenever, wherever. We don't go to the studio or anything. We just go to Jimmy's room.
MTV UK: Zoe, did you make a conscious decision to move from acting into music?
Zoe Kravitz: No, there was no conscious career shift or anything like that. Music is just doing something else that I love to do because I had the time to do it. I was a big musical theatre nerd, and I always combined music and acting. I never really saw a line of separation. It's about all-round good old-fashioned entertainment.
MTV UK: For someone who hasn’t heard your music, what track would give them the best idea about you as a band?
James: Maybe ‘Jimmy Franco’.
MTV UK: You recorded this album in both the Bahamas and in Las Vegas - very contrasting environments. Did that affect the recording process?
James: It definitely affected it because we write it all pretty much immediately. The Bahamas was very chill…
Zoe: …and I think the music that we did in Vegas has a lot more of a weird edge to it. It's kind of funky and a little bit bizarre, like Vegas is. The Bahamas is a little bit more tribal and tropical and a feel good vibe.
MTV UK: Was it a struggle then to make it sound like a cohesive album?
James: I think the cohesive sound thing is really a production thing, that's the glue, and Jimmy produced it.
MTV UK: Why did you choose 'Calm Down' as the title single?
Zoe: We didn't put too much thought into it. It's a funny phrase. I think the whole album has a contrast theme going on - like the song ‘Calm Down’ is actually a very hectic song. So the term calm down is ironic there. It's a theme throughout the album in a lot of ways, and describes the vibe of the record.
MTV UK: Are you influenced by other musicians or do you try and stay away from that when you're recording?
Zoe: Of course. I think that anyone who says they're not influenced by other musicians is lying. We listen to a lot of a hip-hop and a lot nineties stuff that we grew up with, like Aaliyah, TLC and Missy Elliot. We've also been listening to a lot of A$AP Rocky.
MTV UK: How would you describe your visual aesthetic as a band?
James: Very, very good looking. Very dashing… No, it's not that important.
Zoe: We don't put much thought into it. We do what we feel and then go with that. When you start over-thinking things it's a disaster.
MTV UK: You supported Miley Cyrus, Lily Allen and Banks on tour, three very diverse artists. Whose audience did you feel you resonated most with?
Zoe: The nature of being an opening band is an interesting thing. Sometimes people are listening, sometimes they're not. They were very kind to us, all things considered. At the Miley shows people are there to get down and have fun, and we do that too.
MTV UK: Miley is a provocateur - what did you learn from her?
Zoe: I think the word you use - provocative - is code for the fact that she has a brain and isn't swayed by what people say she should be doing. I find it something that I respect. Whenever I see an artist - especially one as young and successful as her doing what they want to do and making things the way they want to make it - I aspire to do the same thing, whether what I decide to do is provocative or not.
MTV UK: Zoe, how are you juggling careers in both music and film?
Zoe: Music has always been in my free time pretty much, because on film sets there are other peoples' schedules to consider. Any time I'm not on a set I'm making music. I'm doing an independent film in December with Emile Hirsch in Louisiana. We're going to be recording and playing shows up until I start filming.
LOLAWOLF will be supporting Lily Allen on her UK tour from November 22nd – 30th and will headline the Seabright Arms on December 1st.