Yesterday, Yeasayer released sophomore album Oddblood and played a record release party at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. While the show was fantastic (and the album is highly recommended) those boys will be getting more than enough press this week, so let’s turn our attention to Class Actress, who opened for them last night.
Class Actress is the collaboration of front woman Elizabeth Harper and producers Scott Rosenthal and Mark Richardson. Turns out, I had a chance to catch-up with Harper just this morning:
mtvU: Amazing performaces last night. Did you get a chance to stick around for Yeasayer’s set?
Harper: I did, they were absolutely incredible. With the light show and everything, I felt like I was in another world.
mtvU: Tell me a little about how you started playing music. Because originally you had set out to become an actress? You were in a theater program?
Harper: Yes. I started bringing my guitar to rehearsals and music just felt right. I realized that I would rather play music all the time.
mtvU: And how did you start playing with Scott and Mark?
Harper: I’ve known Mark a really long time. I saw him play live and walked up to him and gave him my demo. It’s one of the boldest things I’ve ever done. He remixed some of the songs and I actually liked the remixes better, so I asked him if he would be interested in working together. I met Scott in a guitar store here in New York actually. Now they’re two of my best friends, like brothers. Playing with them is like playing with family.
mtvU: You’ve mentioned that the new EP Journal of Ardency is like a secret book so how does it feel to be performing these songs in a very public sphere?
Harper: It’s a HUGE RELIEF. It feels so good to be able to say all these feelings out loud, in front of all these people.
mtvU: And it’s being released on Chris Taylor’s [of Grizzly Bear] label Terrible Records. What’s it like to work with Chris?
Harper: Well I love Grizzly Bear and Chris is amazing. He has an ear for all different kinds of bands. And he just gave me the most amazing haircut!
mtvU: Chris Taylor cuts hair?
Harper: He does! Quite well!
mtvU: Why the decision to go with the EP when you have mentioned in the press before that you do have a full-length LP recorded?
Harper: Because we kept writing better and better songs. And we wanted to give the people something now, a little sampler, to give everyone a taste of what we sound like. Basically, we didn’t want to wait and full-length records can take a lot of time.
mtvU: And lastly, what are some of your more current influences?
Harper: Aside from listening to a lot of my friend’s demos, I’ve been listening to M83 and Phoenix a lot.
The set last night was certainly an indication of great things to come. As someone who grew up in the 80s, the newly released EP Journal of Ardency is like a trip back to the days where I was just beginning to discover music. The synth beats and angsty lyrics of heartbreak recall memories of all the countless hours I spent listening to mixtapes.
What I enjoyed most was that Class Actress makes no attempt to hide the fact that their work is specifically 80s influenced. (There was even a shamelessly cuffed jean jacket worn on stage.) Harper herself, impossibly tall, exudes a sultry glamourous attitude while performing. Onstage, she manages to be a paradoxical combination of vulnerability and untouchable cool. Check out Class Actress on MySpace and purchase Journal of Ardency at Terrible Records.