One of the bands I am genuinely the most excited to be seeing at the Second Annual North Jersey Indie Rock Festival this coming Saturday is Fruit & Flowers, a Brooklyn-based band who released their debut EP, Drug Tax, earlier in the summer on Little Dickman Records. Fruit & Flowers brings a really unique surfy, experimental, noise-punk sound that is truly unlike anything else I’ve ever heard, while still expertly crafting infectiously catchy tunes.
I was absolutely thrilled to be able to speak with the band’s two guitarists, Ana Becker and Lyzi Wakefield, ahead of the indie fest about Drug Tax, touring, Little Dickman, their Audiotree performance, Twin Peaks, the importance of DIY, and Ancient Greek mythology. Check out what they had to say and be sure to come check out Fruit & Flowers, along with the other twenty-three mega-talented bands, September 23 at the North Jersey Indie Rock Fest at Cathedral Hall in Jersey City.
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me, very excited to be able to feature Fruit and Flowers on the site and see you play at the North Jersey Indie Rock Fest. To start at the beginning, you released your debut EP, Drug Tax¸ earlier this summer which is a really great release. How did the EP come together and how was the experience of writing and recording this first EP with this group?
Ana Becker (AB): Writing it almost feels like a lifetime ago, even though it was only a couple of years. The band has evolved and done so much in the interim. It’s so rare to find a real chemistry with songwriting partners, and I think we wrote the EP feeling that rush of excitement. Recording it was a battle between financial stress and time constraints vs creativity and expression, and efficiency vs perfectionism, as many things are. Eventually we came to something I think we’re all really proud of. We worked with John Thayer at Thump studios in Greenpoint, BKLYN who engineered & co-produced, as well as George Harris at Creative World Recording who did an incredible job mixing and mastering.
I’ve seen that Fruit and Flowers has done quite a bit of touring this year in addition to putting out the EP. What were some of the highlights of the tour, cities, venues, bands you performed with, etc?
AB: I loved touring in March with Big Bliss, one of my personal favorite bands, and some of my favorite people. Touring the west coast in February with Ex-Girlfriends was an incredible life experience. We went to Canada in July– I love Canada. There’s so much awesome music happening there. We played at Baby G in Toronto with Peeling, who are amazing. Our show the next night was in a suburb, Oakville. Whenever we told anyone in Toronto, their reaction was the same: “Oakville?! …Why?” Our friends in Casper Skulls set it up, that’s why, and we were stoked to play with them. We’d play with them on a boat, in a moat, on a train, in the rain, whatever, etc. The show in Oakville ended up being AWESOME, possibly the best of the whole July tour. And we met so many new friends. Toronto’s attitude towards Oakville reminded me of how people in New York sometimes react to New Jersey. Just goes to show ya.
Lyzi Wakefield (LW): making it all the way to Tacoma, Washington in February with Ex-Girlfriends was a big deal to me. I am infatuated with the Pacific Northwest, and making it there with two bands in one bus was an accomplishment. Beautiful place. We also had dinner at Twede’s Diner (Twin Peaks).
In July we spent quite a bit of time in Canada, the only other country I’ve been to outside of the states. I felt so welcomed and at home there and it was a blast playing in Oakville with our buddies Casper Skulls. Our bus broke down an hour from the border on the drive back, which turned out to be a rad turn of events. We were able to stay an extra day with a lovely family whose property is on the St. Clair river which divides Canada and Michigan. It was surreal and beautiful.
Drug Tax came out on Little Dickman Records with a totally sick transparent, red vinyl – which I was stoked to add to my collection. How did your relationship with Little Dickman come to be and what about Chris and Amy made them the right fit for the band?
AB: We have Sharkmuffin to thank for introducing us to Little Dickman. Chris and Amy are the best. They treat the bands they support like family; they care so much about the musicians and the community, and they work so hard to strengthen it. They’ve been supportive of Fruit and Flowers since way before we had a release to work on together. So when we finally finished the record, Little Dickman was the obvious choice. We’re super happy to be working with them!
Obviously, the label has a ton of talent. Which other bands do you recommend people check out at the Festival, or even if they’re not playing the festival to be sure to check out in general?
AB: There are really a ton of great bands on Little Dickman. Sharkmuffin and Ex-Girlfriends are favorites and close friends of ours; The Off White and Psychiatric Metaphors are, too. And Dentist, Boytoy, Lost Boy… Basically, just go listen to their whole catalog! We’re happy to be in the company of all of these bands.
Personally, I treat the Hudson like the River Styx, but Fruit and Flowers has been able to have a presence in both Brooklyn and Jersey, which in general is difficult for a lot of artists. How important do you feel it is to be able to get out and play different areas and events like this one?
AB: We hired a ferryman, it’s cool. Styx? No problem.
More seriously though, it’s great to be able to play to different kinds of audiences in different places. Having any kind of pretension about being for only one place or another is really limiting. Also, an audience can be kind of like a mirror: it’s interesting to see what different kinds of performances and songs different audiences react to.
Last question, in your Audiotree performance – which was fantastic – you collectively spoke about the importance of DIY communities nation-wide, and N.J. Racket, as a DIY publication definitely tries to uphold and promote the ideals of these communities. Also, the North Jersey Indie Rock Fest, at its core, is really a true DIY event put together by Frank and Neil from Sniffling Indie Kids and Mint 400. Can you speak to your experiences and the significant role that DIY has played in your life/lives?
AB: DIY spaces have been extremely important to me, especially as a teenager when I wasn’t old enough to get into shows at bars and venues. There’s a different dynamic and a different emphasis in a DIY space vs a traditional venue; knowing that the people running a space are doing it because they love music and want to create a community, rather than just wanting to make money, makes the experience of seeing and playing music there so different. You feel like you’re a part of something, and you’re making something together. DIY shows were some of the first places I ever felt a sense of belonging in my life.
LW: DIY venues for the most part are the only music outlets for me. I don’t have a college education and I’m not classically trained on any instrument. You won’t see me playing piano at a concert hall, or even frequenting the rock shows…I can’t afford expensive tickets to the opera……what other option for me is there? DIY shows taught me more about expression and art than school has or will. I’ve always had the do it yourself mentality…and I feel fortunate there are communities out there with the same mindset. The DIY setting feels like a natural habitat to me. It’s important and empowering to have the opportunity create your own creative environment that other artists are welcome to inhabit and express their art.
Again, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us, I really appreciate it, and look forward to your performance at the Second Annual North Jersey Indie Rock Festival on September 23 at Cathedral Hall in Jersey City!
AB: We’re looking forward to playing the fest! Can’t wait.
Photo by: Fernando Forero
Adam gave man-birth to N.J. Racket and is as close to an "editor-in-chief" the site has. He's a god awful photographer.