Brooklyn-based band, TEEN, have a musical ability unlike many other artists. Other than being individually talented, the four band members (three are sisters), seem to merge together to form a instrumental-laden superpower. Heavy rhythm, expressive vocals and a hint of pyschedelics create a near to perfect sound. Recently the girls came to Berlin to play at the Comet Club, and I dropped by to have a chat with the lead singer, Teeny, and drummer/vocalist, Katherine.
Indieberlin: Tell me a bit about how the band started..
Teeny: I was in Here We Go Magic, and we on a bit of break from touring and I started to make some home recordings on a four track, and I started to really like the material, and people were really responding to it so I wanted to start playing it live. I asked my sisters (Katherine and Lizzie) and Jane to play in the band with me and Maya, who used to play in the band too.
Indieberlin: How is it being around your sisters all the time.. do you generally get along?
Teeny: Yeah, making music with them is easy but.. it feels a little claustrophobic. Just kidding! No, I mean we definitely bicker but I feel like everyone bickers. When you’re spending that much time in such close quarters with people it’s impossible not to..
Katherine: Well we’ve said this before – we fight really easily. Fights come to the surface really easily and quickly and they resolve quickly because we’re family. We don’t hold anything in, which sometimes is a problem. For the people around us it might be intense, but things don’t drag out. They happen quickly and are over quickly.
Indieberlin: You’ve never played a show angry?
Katherine: Not really actually.. knock on wood. It usually happens before or after the show, in the van before everyone’s had coffee ..
Teeny: That’s a really good point.. it never feels like a musical fight. Which is something I’ve experienced in other bands I’ve played with in the past.
Katherine: I think the family thing helps us sync musically. We don’t fight about music really.
Indieberlin: You have quite a unique sound. There are so many bands that sound similar but your records can be listened to over and over again. Who are you inspired by?
Teeny: It changes.. I think particially what makes music interesting is different influences. Like Katherine definately listens to different music than I do. Right now I’m really into Kate Bush. I’ve always listened to a lot of R&B. D’Angelo is like my favourite person ever – and Al Green and Aretha Franklin.. I think where we all come together is that we all love classic rock.. right?
Katherine: You didn’t used to! You used to make fun me..
Teeny: What are you talking about!? I was obsessed with Led Zeppelin as a teenager..I mean, I was more into grunge..
Katherine: No.. she’s lying.
Indieberlin: Are there any other bands that you are really into right now?
Teeny: I’m obsessed with Tame Impala and Pond. They’re amazing.
Katherine: I’m really into Savages right now. We just saw them when we played at SXSW and they put on such an amazing show. The music isn’t my first choice in music but it doesn’t even matter because they’re such great performers and players that I just loved it, you know?
Indieberlin: It was your first time at SXSW.. How was it?
Teeny: Umm.. brain fart.
Katherine: Yeah I mean the shows were really good. The crowds and people that came to the shows were really fun and energetic and it felt really good, but the logistics of playing festivals are horrible. The festival basically takes over the whole city, and you cant really drive or unpack..
Teeny: Yeah, in those instances the artists becomes basically the last consideration. The only consideration is the industry, and those are the people getting catered to rather than the people actually bringing people there. It feels backwards and kind of not worth it.
Indieberlin: Do you prefer smaller venues to festivals?
Teeny: We haven’t really played any festivals. I mean I have with Here We Go Magic..it’s very different.
Katherine: It always feels the best to play with a full crowd. We’ve played shows that we’ve opened for bigger bands and that felt great, but we’ve also played smaller intimate clubs. If the space is full then thats the best.
Indieberlin: A lot of the music scene is male dominated – how do you feel about being an all girl band?
Teeny: I think we actually appeal to a male audience because of the music. It’s not just about being girls. The music is powerful and rhythm heavy and so maybe the appeals to men more but yeah I don’t know..
Katherine: I definitely enjoy seeing women play music. Or all women doing anything… I’m kind of a feminist.
Teeny: I remember part of the reason why I wanted to play with all women is becuase I didnt want it to be an issue. I remember having a conversation with someone a while ago when I was younger and they were like, “Well, you cant play with all girls because thats too much of ‘a thing’,” and thats ridiculous, that’s something that never even entered my mind. I just wanted to do something that would just erase that. That’s why we love Savages so much and seeing them play, and also I feel the same way about Warpaint. It’s a thing where you see women on stage but your not thinking about them being women, and I think we hope to do that. Because it feels like of an ancient thing that four women cant play music together- as if it’s gimmicky.. it’s not like that.
Indieberlin: When does your EP come out?
Teeny: It comes out May 28th in the states..tenatively. So I’m not sure exactly in Europe.. we’re really excited about it. If feels like a step in the right direction for us, a step above what we’ve been doing before.