“I think the need to be trendy when making music is ultimately unhealthy, but in some ways it’s hard to avoid.” @grapefruitlore
GETTING TO KNOW GRAPEFRUIT LORE
by Jacqueline Jax
Each of us found music somewhat differently….
My father, Jim Walker, is a professional flutist so I grew up taking music lessons and having music in the house all the time. Emily’s dad is also a great musician who I think helped her get into it. Mattan is a little more self-taught – he had a piano in his house and started writing songs just on his own in high school, and he’s been scoring his own films for years.
Mattan and I have always said that we have parallel lives – there are some eery similarities to our personalities and upbringings. This idea – that our older sisters are just plainly, objectively, and empirically BETTER than us in every way was one of those similarities we’ve joked about. Both of our sisters are two years older than us, mine is in dental school, his is in medical school, etc. So he wrote the main pieces of the song, Older Sister, a couple years ago, and when I heard it I suggested we make it a duet, wrote my own verse and came up with a little bridge section and it was done.
We’re all from the LA area and our band is based in LA, where Mattan and I went to school and met each other. I can only speak for myself, but in my view there isn’t much of a scene to speak of. People think of LA as this music mecca but a lot of that comes from the history and the lore of these famous venues. But the fact that all these iconic bands played at these venues years ago does nothing for fostering a music scene today. What’s missing is the kind of culture where people go out together and hang out at music venues, meet people, have drinks, and check out whoever is playing. That ingredient is crucial to having a real “scene” and in my experience it’s been totally absent. When you don’t have these built-in audiences, the result is venues passing the burden on to the artist. You’re told that you have to promise to draw 50 heads or some number like that, or sell tickets in advance (i.e. pay to play). I have no problem with promoting our shows but there’s only so much a band can do. Even if we do manage to get 50 people to show up, they’re all going to be our friends and family because no one else knows who we are yet, so we’re going to end up wasting time, money and energy playing a show that we might as well have done in our back yard. One venue I did like was the Santa Monica Central Social Aid and Pleasure club. They had a few people there getting drinks on a Friday night, we played, and they all came over to the stage and gave us some great vibes. Aside from music Mattan and I like to work on film projects, Mattan is into swimming and running, and I’m a total Ice-Hockey fiend. Emily is involved in her choir and music groups at her high school (yes, she’s still in high school).
I like that social media can be a great catalyst for movements like the Arab Spring. Logistically it’s incredible how much things like twitter and facebook help keep people informed on important things. We haven’t had too many challenges within social media.
I know Mattan is a total Beatle-maniac; Emily has been into St. Vincent and HAIM of late; my favorite artist is the Shins, who are definitely one of my primary songwriting influences. I think James Mercer is the best songwriter of this generation and he never ceases to amaze me. Lyrically and melodically there is so much color to what he does. You never know exactly where he’s going and it’s always a pleasant surprise. I did actually get to go to their soundcheck before a show back in 2012 through Grammy U, and we had a Q&A afterward. He and the rest of the band were so cool and had some great things to say.
I think the need to be trendy when making music is ultimately unhealthy, but in some ways it’s hard to avoid. Our goal is always to write a song that feels honest and instinctive, and then arrange it in a way that does it justice. At the same time we don’t want to make decisions that make our music sound dated or irrelevant. So it can be tough. Going back to Older Sister, we actually tried to record it numerous times, and a lot of those attempts failed because we were trying to arrange it and produce it in a trendy way. We tried electronic stuff, samples, all kinds of approaches. At the end of the day that song has a very celebratory tone to it, so the fanfare at the beginning worked to our ears. I wouldn’t exactly describe flutes, clarinets and oboes as trendy but we have to go with what works for the song.
My definition of success is enjoying what you do to pay the bills.
We’re working on some cover videos and music videos, then recording another EP this summer that will probably be released in late 2015 or early 2016.
The roots of Grapefruit Lore can be traced back to the fall of 2011, when founders Preston J. Walker and Mattan Cohen began collaborating as college freshmen. They wrote and recorded their first songs in Mattan’s dorm room, amidst a healthy surrounding of cracked out roommates, angry RA’s and endless stampedes of sorority girls through the hallways (who elected, on almost all occasions, to pass by rather than stop by the open door).
In 2014, Mattan and Preston added bassist/vocalist Emily McCrite to the lineup and christened the newly minted trio “Grapefruit Lore”. After working with producers/engineers Cal Campbell and John DeBold, their debut EP, “Camp Debacle”, is now available on Soundcloud and Bandcamp.