Bandcamp can be compared to a sprawling antique mall — you stumble in, seduced by the possibility of finding that rad McDonald’s collectors’ edition glass cup with the Hamburglar that no one else has — but wind up lost on an aisle of vintage blenders that don’t work anymore. Perhaps you leave empty-handed or as the proud owner of a baby-blue blender that you didn’t actually want at all and are a little confused as to how you were tricked into buying it. This metaphor could go on, but the point is that going on Bandcamp can be a risky, time-consuming affair.
There’s a lot of noise and downright bad music with no guarantee of finding a new band worthy of heavy rotation. Thankfully, a bit of the dizzying legwork has been done for you here.
TV Girl — a dreamy, sunny side up pop group out of Los Angeles — may just be the Bandcamp equivalent of the Hamburglar Holy Grail. Headed up by Brad Petering, Jason Wyman and Wyatt Harmon, these Bandcamp babes released their first full length LP, “French Exit,” back in June, and it’s one helluva criminally underrated album.
The group popped up on Pitchfork’s radar a la its Forkcast way back in 2010 with their song “If You Want It.” Unfortunately, corporate record behemoths don’t take too kindly to illegal samples of their copyrighted wares (in this case, it was a sample of Todd Rundgren’s “Hello It’s Me”), and the song basically vanished from the Internet in 2011.
Undaunted, the group released a string of somewhat unpolished but nonetheless satisfying EPs (see: 2013’s “Lonely Woman” or “TV Girl EP”) leading up to the high sheen polish of “French Exit.” Girl-obsessed and enveloped in a cinematic haze, the twelve track album recounts tales of lust and love with some truly killer hooks (see: the first 25 seconds of “Hate Yourself”).
Reporter Zachariah Webb recently sat down with lead singer, Brad Petering, for a brief chat — there just happened to be the glow of a computer screen and roughly 372 miles between them.
The State Press: So, how did TV Girl come about?
Brad Petering: I’m not really sure. The origins of this band are so obscure that even I don’t know them.
SP: Your music sounds so familiar and so new at the same time. What are your influences?
BP: I just listen to a whole lot of music. Every good idea in my music is most likely stolen from somebody else. But if you steal tiny little bits from lots of people and jam them together, well, that’s almost as good as coming up with something original. And easier, too.
SP: What’s your creative process like?
BP: My creative process is a simple two-part process:
1. Sit down at a desk with instrument of choice. For me, usually a computer.
2. Write a song
I imagine this is similar to most artists’ processes. Although I guess you don’t necessarily have to be sitting at a desk. You could be lying on the floor. Or standing at a minibar, etc.
SP: How would you describe your sound in imagery?
BP: If someone asked me to do that, I would probably sidestep the question with a joke and start talking about something else.
SP: Your lyrics seem to focus on stories of various women (whether they’re the daughter of a cop or smoking in bed). Are they inspired by real life women or more abstract ideals?
BP: Depends on the song. “She Smokes in Bed” is pure fantasy. “Louise” is a more or less factual recounting of a real event in my life (from my point of view, at least). Sometimes it’s a mixture of both. “Daughter of a Cop,” for example. In high school, I lusted after a girl in my class who was the daughter of a cop, but none of the things that I describe in the song actually happened — to me at least.
SP: You just released a jazzy/fun/vaguely terrifying video for “Birds Don’t Sing.” How did y’all come up with the idea for it and bring it to fruition?
BP: You’d have to ask the video’s director for the full scoop on that. Maddie Keaton is a talented designer who designs most of the TV Girl imagery. She’d never directed a video before. I asked her if she’d like to make one and that I’d give her $100 as the budget. She and the actors admirably rose the occasion, and are all permanently psychologically scarred from the experience. That’s the price you pay to make beautiful art, I guess.
SP: You recently tweeted: “Fun factoid: the internet provides quick and free information. But it also leaves the impression that life is chaotic and meaningless.” I mean, I totally agree, but I have to ask, when you’re on the Internet, what do you typically wander through/where do you normally wind up?
Fun factoid: The internet provides quick and free information. But it also leaves the impression that life is chaotic and meaningless.
— TV Girl (@tvgirlz) August 18, 2014
BP: I usually just check Mat Cothran’s blog and then get angry at Pitchfork. And then I go read a book.
SP: If you could record a new soundtrack for an old movie, what movie would you pick?
BP: I would desperately try to weasel out of that project. Failing that, I would probably just turn on a keyboard arpeggiator and let it loop over “Sleepless in Seattle,” and then I would go into another room and do something else.
SP: There was that fun debacle a while back when Warner Bros. made you take down “If You Want It,” because it “illegally” sampled “Hello, It’s Me” by Todd Rundgren. What was that whole experience like?
BP: It was eye opening. When artists complain about their record labels, we often think that maybe it’s just the artists being babies. But no, the people who end up working at record labels really are incredibly stupid.
SP: Who and/or what are you listening to right now?
BP: Lots and lots of good music so far this year. As far as contemporary artists that I like: Ricky Eat Acid, Frankie Cosmos, Lone, Emily Reo, Yohuna, Elvis Depressedly, Bilinda Butchers, Macintosh Plus, Monster Rally, Couples Counseling, Snow Mantled Love and Lil Ugly Mane.
SP: Is TV Girl working on anything new at the moment?
BP: We’re working on setting up an East Coast tour, and I’m just beginning to think about a new record. So, yes.
SP: Any chance you’ll be wandering through Phoenix for a show anytime soon?
BP: I certainly hope that next time I come to Phoenix, it’s with a deliberate purpose and not the result of aimless wandering. I’d like to play Phoenix. Will do my best to set something up there in the foreseeable future.
Hint: Now is when you click here to go download TV Girl’s “French Exit” in order to lose yourself to classically dreamy vibes.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @zachariahkaylar.