Tracy Wilson's singing voice is a powerful thing. During a verse, she'll offer up lines that are delicate and euphonic, only to shift into a commanding scream during the chorus section, and then switch back to a pixie-like delivery in a heartbeat. This soft/loud dynamic suited Wilson's work with Dahlia Seed perfectly. During the '90s, the east coast band released a handful of singles and splits—plus one studio album—of what could be best described as indie rock performed by folks who also love hardcore and metal.
I had the great fortune to see Dahlia Seed perform a handful of times during their time together, and Wilson never disappointed. Even when her voice was burning hoarse from her scream parts, she powered through with conviction. Since Dahlia Seed's split in 1996, Wilson's discography has grown via her solo work as Ringfinger, and her current band, Positive No.
Currently living in Richmond, Virginia, I reached out to Wilson to talk about her Dahlia Seed days and her various other projects, on and off stage.
Where did you grow up?
My family lived in Saddle River, New Jersey for most of my childhood. However, my dad traveled often for work back then. When I was very small we called London and a few other European cities home.
That sounds cool. Were your parents "artistic types" when you were a kid?
My parents were crazy for art, culture, and music. My dad was a hobby artist but truly outstanding at pastel impressionist stuff and sketches. My mother wrote poems and applied her creativity to all sorts of projects from embroidery to the early days of graphic design on an Apple computer. My parents are both gone now, but I consider their artistic output some of my most prized personal possessions. I feel very fortunate because my family had memberships to most of the NYC art and science museums. We drove into New York (30 minutes away) to the openings of new exhibits during the '70s and '80s regularly: Picasso, Impressionist painters, Warhol, Pompeii, King Tut, and so many more. These are some of my fondest and strongest childhood memories. The exposure to all of this varied culture and information made a lasting impression on me.
My parents also loved the theater, opera, ballet, and classical performances, so if we weren't going on family trips to New York for something, my mom was taking us all over the east coast to visit historical sights, learn how something was made, or helping us craft something at home. The last important piece of my childhood is reading. Books were sacred in our home and I was told to never trust anyone who doesn't own a lot of books. I feel like that parental advice holds up to this day.
SEE ALSO: 2016 interview with Andrew Orlando (Black Army Jacket, Reservoir Records, Monkeybite Zine, Milhouse).
Did you listen to a lot of FM radio during those formative years?
Radio has always had a hypnotizing effect on me. I grew up glued to the FM dial. I started off with Top 40 stations, but my parents also listened to classical and jazz, so car rides were a mix of all of these things. As I got older, I discovered a station called WDRE (also known as WLIR) and this changed my life. I didn't really know there was such a thing as underground or alternative music, but it really spoke to me as a kid who felt like a weirdo outsider. Discovering bands that sounded like I felt made me feel less alone, less trapped in suburbia. I suddenly had hope that there were other people like me out in the big world that I had yet to explore.
I began working at a record store in 1988 called Flipside, in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey. My serious music education started there. The owner kept his private collection of super rare garage, rock, and psych; so for every new band I said I loved, he pulled out five bands that came first in the same genre. If we weren't playing records in the shop (both his and new stuff), we were listening to WFMU—the best freeform radio on the planet. Everything I know about music comes from these sources. I ended up with a radio show of my own for several years on WRIR [Richmond Independent Radio] called Cause & Effect, which basically took the influences game we played at the record shop and turned it into a two-hour format.
In high school, did you fall into a specific clique of kids? For example, I mostly hung out with the metalhead and punk kids.
Once I discovered there was such a thing as alternative music, towards the end of grade school and for all of high school I was classified as a freak, but not artsy because I had no ability to make any art with my hands. I ditched sports for music and started exploring NYC on my own, which led to a change in my clothing to vintage-type stuff. I saw what poor art students in the city looked like, what bands I loved looked like, and modeled myself in that direction. I ended up like a collage of all the various John Hughes movie character with Andie from Pretty in Pink and Watts from Some Kind of Wonderful leading the way.
By 1988, my junior year, I had fallen in love with grunge music and guitar-driven indie rock bands led by women. In an effort to channel bands like L7, Babes in Toyland, and The Lunachicks, I had long semi-dreaded hair and looked as if Jan Brady had joined a street gang [laughs]. Combat boots with dresses, saddle shoes with military pants and a band shirt, long underwear as a layer all year 'round... I deconstructed whatever definition of feminine I was raised with and rebuilt myself according to what I felt most comfortable in. It was a mess, but it was me. Senior year I also got my first tattoo (Tommy Guerrero skateboard art), which in 1990 was not a cool thing to do in the slightest. It was a huge ordeal. The school wanted me to cover it up at graduation and my dad was mortified. It is bonkers to think how far tattoos have come over the decades as far as being accepted by the mainstream.
At what point did you start going out to punk/indie shows?
I started going to alternative/college rock-type shows in grade school, but they were all in larger venues because bands like The Replacements, R.E.M., and They Might be Giants were starting to take off. We lived so close to Hoboken and NYC that I went to smaller clubs shows almost weekly as soon I had my own car: CBGB's, ABC No Rio, The Pyramid, Maxwell's, and then farther out places like City Gardens. We lived in the best possible place to catch touring bands, so I wasn't as attached to a local scene before I joined a band. I mostly saw a lot of touring national and international bands. During the summer and after high school I was seeing a show almost every night, so it is insane how many bands I saw from 1988 until the late 2000s. I estimate I have seen somewhere around 10,000 bands perform in my adult life. You name the band, there is a good chance I have seen them play live at least once.
I grew up in northern New Jersey, so my high school band was Rorschach—two members went to my school. Through them I was introduced to Born Against and Merel. From those bands, my introductions spiraled out to regional hardcore and punk bands who played all ages spaces and houses. I moved to Hoboken basically the day I graduated high school, so between Maxwell's, the record store Pier Platters, and local-ish bands like Yo La Tengo, Das Damen, Sonic Youth, Bewitched, and Pavement, there was so much around me to be excited and inspired by.
SEE ALSO: Rorschach's Needlepack 25th Anniversary
Was Dahlia Seed the first band you played in?
Dahlia Seed was technically my first band, but I was playing music with a few different people at the same time, all indie rock. I was briefly a member of Dunebuggy, and then my boyfriend at the time, Phil, and I had a project called Brokenmouth. I was still learning how to play guitar, write songs, and sing, so each band offered me a unique opportunity to see how other bands created music and let me practice often.
How did Dahlia Seed come about, and were you confident fronting the band during the early stages?
To this day, I am not sure who placed the East Coast Rocker classified ad, but it said a band was looking for a female singer influenced by a wide range of music from Black Sabbath to Nancy Sinatra. The phone number listed told me that whomever placed the ad lived near where I grew up, so even though I had zero band experience, I wanted to at least meet these people with good taste in music. The band included Danny Darella from Underdog, and while I don't recall much about what they sounded like, they had friends who hung out during practice who took me under their wings. They became my best friends senior year, and even though they were a little older and lived a county away in New York, they became my everything. One of these people was Chris Skelly, one of the founders of Dahlia Seed. I never ended up joining that other band, but Chris promised me that he was starting a band that I should join. A year or so later that is exactly what happened.
Did you feel anxious about fronting a band?
I knew I loved singing, but that is so different from having any sort of style or confidence as a singer fronting a band. There is a lot of pressure I had never really thought about until I joined Dahlia Seed. It wasn't just about being able to sing, it was about performing in a way that engaged people. Creating lyrics, melodies, timing, building my own delivery style and attack would all come from trial and error. Oh, so many errors. I started off playing guitar and singing in the band, but I ditched the guitar within a year. I was terrible at doing both at the same time, so I decided I would just stick to singing, which I always enjoyed more.
SEE ALSO: 2016 interview with Brendan White (Bad Trip).
You have a sweet and sour vocal delivery style. What I mean by that is you could sing something really pretty and dreamlike one moment and then belt out screaming lines around the next turn. I imagine you ran into some voice issues during the time you were developing your approach.
I have never taken a vocal lesson and it shows. You are told to never sing from the throat, but that is exactly how I started. I would blow it out after a few songs and then struggle to finish sets. I really like to use both a breathy softer voice (head) and a belty voice (chest). I know some people regard this as an inconsistent style or slightly schizophrenic, but I like using these dynamic shifts depending on how a song builds, or the lyrics. My range is questionable at best, so a softer head voice is the only way I can reach those higher notes. The transition to get there on a good day is tough, so when your vocal cords are beat up, raw, and tired from the strain of playing shows—no less with little to no monitors—it becomes almost impossible. It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out that warm-ups, constant practice, staying hydrated, and sleep were all key to singing better. I still live with chronic paranoia that my voice is dying, and I will let the people I play with or for down at a show. I sometimes hum in my sleep because on tour before I got out of bed I would see if I had a voice by humming quietly. That obsession and fear of having no voice still haunts me in my sleep.
The first record Dahlia Seed released was the 1993 split 7" you did with Greyhouse, a band that featured Jon Hiltz of Born Against.
Aging is a bitch. I have a hard time remembering which of our records came out first. Mostly because there is so much waiting as a band between recording and releasing something. We played around the area with a few bands often, and Greyhouse was one of them. It's funny, Jon is a drummer but my association with him is as a good friend and the ultimate house show host. His house shows were the stuff legends are made of. Now that I think of it, the first record I put out was a split 7" as Brokenmouth, and Dunebuggy was on the other side. When the idea of making a record was suggested to me, I had no idea how to play guitar or write songs. It was almost like a dare. I was told, "If you can do it by this deadline, let's do a split single." I practiced like crazy and in a matter of months, I recorded my first song ("Shiloh") at a Ramapo College studio. I still get excited when anyone wants to put out a record by me, no less press up vinyl. That never gets old to me, as both an artist and a record collector.
After a split 10" with Brokenmouth released on Jagerlegs, Dahlia Seed issued a 7" called Teas! on California punk label Theologian Records (Pennywise, No Fun at All). How did you hook up with them?
My connection to a few far away record labels came from me working in the music industry. Jagerlegs was run by an employee of Slash Records who called our record shop for retail tracking. We became friends over time, and it led to us recording something for her label (I also have her to thank for my introduction to the band Failure). I still have never met the guy who ran Theologian in person, but we met via the phone when I was selling records for C/Z Records in Seattle. Before social media, everything was accomplished through the phone and letters.
Was the band gigging a lot during this time?
Dahlia Seed only did one proper U.S. tour. The rest of our shows were mostly around the Tri-state area with a few random trips further north or west for small festivals. I lived in Seattle for a few years while the band was still active, so it made any real touring for us impossible. I don't believe we ever did the touring to support a new release thing. I don't even recall ever having a record release party. We never played any of those industry games to try and make it big. Bigger labels suggested we change our sound or alter what we looked like, and none of that bullshit appealed to us.
You guys got on my radar for the first time in 1994 with the split 7" you did with Garden Variety, a band that was closer to my neck of the woods in Queens since they were from Long Island.
I have such a soft spot for Garden Variety. They were the closest thing to a brother band. We played together a lot and we were both misfits to the scene because we weren't straight ahead pop-punk. We were not hardcore or metal. We weren't basic indie rock. We never fit on any bill, so we were either the heaviest band on a pop bill, or the melodic band on a heavy bill. At least with Garden Variety we could share this middleground together. They are all friends of mine to this day, and I can't image my time in Dahlia Seed without them. They are seriously like family to us. I think the song "Statement of Purpose" was the song that really showed people we were transitioning away from being a softer jangle-pop band and heading towards something heavier. "Milk" was me discovering I had an angry voice, but the natural exploration after that led to "Statement of Purpose." Once I discovered the relief and release that follows singing aggressively, there was no turning back to me. It is the cheapest therapy there is.
1994 also saw the release of Valentine Kid's Litter, a collection of songs from various sessions and prior releases. The next year, Mike Simonetti's Troubleman Unlimited released Survived By, Dahlia Seed's proper debut album. How do you feel about that record when you listen to it now? I still play it a few times a year, but I've always felt that the recording didn't capture how heavy the band was.
Survived By comes with a lot of baggage for me, both good and bad. I was living in Seattle and flying back intermittently to play shows and hammer out the new songs that we were otherwise mailing back and forth. I have to wonder what that record would have sounded like if I had stayed in New Jersey and we were working on material together as a band each week. We then rushed to record the album in three days, so we were all exhausted and under-practiced as a unit. I am still proud of the songs regardless, but with more time together and a longer studio time, who knows what could have been. I fully take the blame for this because I left for Seattle during our prime. I look at Survived By like a snapshot of the time, and while it captures some of the raw energy we had, it also lacks the oomph I think we carried live.
I can't tell you how many people told us that they didn't like us recorded but really loved us live. That intensity of a live performance is really hard to bottle in recorded form. I also struggle in the studio to feel comfortable enough to just really go for it. It feels like testing to me, something I also don't do well. Performing under pressure is my Achilles' heel. Also, you play live often but the number of times a band goes into a studio is much more limited. There is so much stress in knowing you only have X amount of days to knock it out of the park. I start panicking just thinking about it.
During the touring for Survived By, Farkcus Affair guitarist Kevin McManus joined the band. How did that come about?
Kevin, like all good gifts from that time period, came from knowing Garden Variety. He wasn't in the band for long before we ended up calling it quits, but because he did the big U.S. tour, he feels like the guitar player that spent the most time with us. If there is a good story about how he joined our band, it has sadly vanished from my memory.
SEE ALSO: ABC No Rio Hardcore Matinees 1990 - 1991: A Visual Retrospective
One of the last things Dahlia Seed released was a fantastic cover of Voïvod's "Missing Sequences." Whose idea was it to cut that song, and what was the reaction like once it came out?
So many bands have members that are also huge fans of music. One of my favorite band memories is listening to everyone's personal mixes on tape. You really got to know where each member came from and where they were musically headed through those mixes. While our tastes didn't always overlap, there were plenty of bands we all loved. Voïvod was one of them. I always liked metal, but I really fell in love with the genre after so many years in Dahlia Seed. Chris, Darin, and Brian all had extensive knowledge in metal, so I was exposed to a lot through them. It wasn't until we covered "Missing Sequences" that I had a true appreciation for how complex Voïvod's music is. I am sure people were baffled by us covering it at the time, but it remains the one song people still high-five me about to this day. I mean, my lifelong friendship that led to the band [Down With the Ship] with the legendary drummer Dave Witte came from him approaching me about that cover at a show in NYC in the late '90s. Metal unites.
Why did Dahlia Seed break up?
Being in a band is fucking hard. You invest a lot of time, money, energy, and self into something that doesn't always give anything back. After enough years of more tough times than rewarding times, I think we were all feeling the pressures of aging and trying to pay bills. Some members had family or loved ones who were leaning on them to do something that in their mind actually had a future. I can't speak for the rest of the band, but all of these things begin to add up. It is difficult to keep five people on the same page forever, creatively speaking or otherwise. We ended the band when it became more work than a positive, happy experience for all of us. I needed a time out to regroup and decide how music would play a role in my life moving forward. Spoiler alert: music remains everything to me.
What's the story behind The 17th, the post-Dahlia Seed band that recorded eight songs in 1998?
The 17 was a short-lived project between the core original members of Dahlia Seed, Chris, Darin, Brian, and I. There was an added second guitar player: basically Dahlia Seed 2.0. There were still songs in us, we were used to each other, so I think this was a last ditch attempt to make it work. It did not. Some couples break up and get back together again thinking it will be different this next time only to discover the chemistry is still too unstable to last. We recorded a few songs, but nothing was ever officially released. I think these songs are currently posted on the Dahlia Seed page.
Sometime in the '00s, you resurrected Ringfinger, a solo moniker you first used in the '90s on a split 7" with Love as Laughter.
Ringfinger was a survival coping mechanism. I had already lost one brother in a fire and then another brother died in a motorcycle accident a few years later. My parents lost their will to live and the surviving children were just a reminder of what no longer was. My mom had been battling Multiple Sclerosis for decades and my father was diagnosed with lung cancer that quickly spread to his bones. They died within a year of each other, just a few years after the death of my second brother. At the same time, I was going through a divorce and this is when I moved from NYC to Richmond, Virginia—where I didn't really know anyone. All I had was myself and music. I began writing what became a huge collaboration project between old friends and new friends I was slowly making in my new home. It was a lot of alone time, so sending my music off to other people to build upon was the ultimate gift to step out of my me bubble and surrender ego. I wanted to hear my music channeled through other people's ideas, and it was the best possible experience for me. This productive, creative distraction saved my life. Without this project, I hate to think what would have happened to me.
The sole Ringfinger album to date is 2007's Decimal. That record saw you collaborating with members of Isis, Dälek, and Cave In, among other bands. There are elements of indie rock, drum and bass, electro, and trip-hop on the album.
I had skeleton ideas for songs collecting for years, so when I landed in Richmond and had nothing but time on my hands, I began to flesh these ideas out in full. I then reached out to musicians I respect who were also friends and asked them if they were interested in collaborating. This was really before it was easy to use cloud drives for sharing large files, so much of these exchanges were sent through the mail. I didn't really want any say in where my collaborators took the music; I wanted to completely surrender myself and let them have at it. Whatever was sent back to me was what was used to put final vocals on top of, and about half of the record was completed this way. The other half was completed in [Cave In guitarist/vocalist] Stephen Brodsky's home studio in Somerville between Christmas and New Years (my first holiday season without my parents being alive); Cam DiNunzio from Denali's home studio, as well as the Sound of Music studio where he was working at the time; J. Robbins' studio; and the Black Iris studio, who were just getting started. I have to give an extra huge thank you to Brodsky. He has always been an incredibly supportive friend and he was key in giving me the courage and push to complete this record. Decimal would not have happened without him. The whole process took about 10 years, which is why I gave the release the title of Decimal.
SEE ALSO: 2016 interview with Al Quint (Suburban Voice Zine).
Did you ever assemble a band to play out with Ringfinger?
Ringfinger played a small number of shows to pretty much zero people, but it was just me alone. Since all of the people who participated in the making of Decimal where spread all over America, there was no easy, affordable way to get everyone together. I was also too new to Richmond to build a new band from scratch. My answer was to karaoke to the instrumental tracks in what I thought was an interesting manner. I had a local artist, Chris Milk, make a huge tapestry recreation of one wall of my apartment. Since the recording was birthed in my apartment, I wanted to recreate a portion of it when I performed the songs live. I recreated the intimate setting of my living room each night the set was performed so the audience could experience the record as it was made. I only played six or seven shows total. Honestly, just crossing the finish line with a finished record felt like all the accomplishment I needed. I made it through a really sad time in my life and closed that volume of my life with a record. It was bittersweet on many levels.
When exactly did you move to Richmond? What is it about the city that most appeals to you? I have a bunch of friends who moved there in the last decade or so from the NYC/NJ area.
I moved to Richmond 10 days before September 11, 2001. My job at that time wanted a regional sales rep to be embedded in the mid-Atlantic, so I jumped at the opportunity to get out of NYC, a place I could no longer afford. As I mentioned earlier, I was also in the middle of a divorce, so the timing was right for me. My largest account was Circuit City, and their headquarters were in Richmond. One of the music buyers that I had become friendly with had just purchased a home and she was giving up her incredible and cheap apartment. I pounced and called that home for the next 11 years of my life. This city has grown in so many ways over the past decade-and-a-half. If you had told me I would fall in love with the Confederate capital 20 years ago, I would have laughed at you and called you crazy. Now I can't imagine living anywhere else. This city has it all: nature, nightlife, impeccable cuisine, a thriving music and craft beer community... There are plenty of colleges to keep pumping new, energetic young people into its blood, so while there is a classic southern feel to the city, it is also very fresh at the same time. There are still plenty of things this city could do better, but as a music lover, this city is perfect. Note: we have more than five decent record stores here!
Positive No originally began as a collaboration between you and Kenny Close in 2011. How did it evolve into a band kind of situation, and did you have a specific stylistic outlook when you first started writing the material?
My life as it relates to music sounds macabre when I share the details of it over the past 20 years. I joke about having a little black cloud (hence the record label name) that follows me around, but I swear I am a really happy and content person. I just happened to go through some really tough times, but those valleys make me appreciate the high points all the more. Positive No began as a demo project with my life partner and way better half, Kenneth Close. In the summer of 2011, I was struck by a car as I was crossing the street outside of our home. I flew up like a rag doll into the windshield and when he hit his breaks, I flew off, losing consciousness for a few seconds. I was carted away in an ambulance and spent 24 hours in the hospital. Amazingly, I didn't break anything, but my leg muscles were so damaged from the hit that it took me two years to be able to walk again with ease and without a cane. The bigger issue was my brain injury, which has left me with a permanent concussion-like state that comes and goes.
From September 2011 until the summer of 2012, I was basically immobile and unemployed (that story could be a book of its own). Kenny had written a handful of songs on guitar, so with nothing but free time, I began adding vocals to them, all in the same living room that Decimal was written. We had no idea what music we made together would sound like, but since we have nearly identical taste in music (guitar-driven indie rock from the '90s), it all came together so easily and naturally. We shared the demos with friends and much to our shock people really liked the songs. We had been a couple for two years at this point and never really planned on being in a band together, but the joy that comes from us making music together has been so utterly huge for both of us, that it has just become a portion of who we are as a couple. I wasn't certain post-accident what I would be able to do, so making music at home helped me feel like my old self again. Music once again came to my rescue with Kenny as the driver.
Glossa, the debut Positive No full-length album, came out in 2015. J. Robbins (Jawbox, Burning Airlines, Channels) recorded most of the record. What did he bring to the table during the sessions?
We recorded with J. Robbins for both our debut EP [Via Florum] and Glossa. He is a friend but also one of the most talented people on the planet. He is an expert songwriter with ears I trust. His gorgeous recording studio, Magpie Cage, is located in Baltimore, which is just three hours north of us, so in my mind I couldn't think of a better place to record. I trust him implicitly. When he says a vocal track could be better, I redo it until we both agree it is where it should be. His opinions are often on point and even when we don't agree on some aspect of a song, I value his input like no other. Few artists get to say they have recorded with a music icon and idol, so we feel very fortunate to have spent time in his studio together. He is a master of making melodic, heavy music sound huge and impactful.
In addition to the music, an aspect I really appreciated about Glossa was the graphic design in its packaging.
Thank you so much for saying that. Hooray for Kenneth Close! Not only is he the love of my life and my fellow band member, he is also a tremendous graphic designer. He does everything for the band from album art to our show flyers. We had daydreamed about creating a book together blending his art with my words, so when we finished Glossa, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try it. We had discussed pressing vinyl again, but it simply would not be fiscally responsible of us to do it. With books we could produce limited amounts at a relatively low cost, so we decided to go for it. Trust me, as a record collector it was a bummer to not have Glossa on vinyl, but rather than sulk, we turned it into an opportunity to collaborate together in a new way. He created art that would be a book jacket for each song. He decided on a color palette (based on the original curtain from the Johnny Carson television show) and from there I let him be. He visually translated each song so the album isn't just something you can listen to, you can see it as well. I think it is really special that as a band we not only can control our sound, but every inch of the visual aspect, too. Whatever you hear or see from us is 100% from the band and us alone.
Looking through Facebook lately, it looks like Positive No has been playing out with some cool bands like Beach Slang. That band features James Alex, who used to be in Weston, a contemporary of Dahlia Seed.
You say James, I say Jim, as he was introduced to me in the early '90s. We hit our 20-year anniversary this year, which makes this most recent string of shows extra special to me. We met when he was just a baby joining Weston and the new, shy member. He has always been the sweetest human on the planet. There are so few of us from that old world still making music today, so it feels like a huge, very sacred thing to still share a few of these moments with someone who has been there from the beginning. So few of us have been able to make a career from music, so I am incredibly in awe of what Jim and Beach Slang have accomplished. I am so damn happy for them. They give me hope that if you work really hard and write great songs, nice things can happen. Playing shows with Beach Slang feels like a family reunion. I am so humbled that they have asked us to play a bunch of shows together. Their generosity is not lost on me.
Tell me about Little Black Clouds Records.
Little Black Cloud Records is a symptom of me hating the act of trying to sell myself to others. When the Ringfinger album was done, I despised the prospect of trying to pitch myself to a record label in a desperate attempt to have them release it for me. Ironically, Magic Bullet offered to press vinyl, so I am grateful to have support from a label that was not my own. From there, it was a perfect excuse to release records by people I love and think are wildly talented. I have never hunted for bands to sign or records to release, they sort of find me. Currently, I can't afford to keep the label going, so if there are any releases past Glossa, it will be because we can't find a record label to help us release new material. The label was around for seven years, which is six more than I ever planned on.
SEE ALSO: 2016 interview with Nate Wilson (Das Oath, Monster X, Devoid of Faith, Green Dragon, Gloom Records).
Outside of Positive No, what do you keep busy with? I know you've been DJing for a long time.
I feel like a freak of nature because my whole life is music. If I am not at my day job, I am either listening to music, playing music, or going to see bands play live. I am new to this home-owning thing, so I have discovered I really like gardening, but yard and house upkeep is no joke. It steals so much of our time. I read, write (poems mostly), and blog about music (Lightning's Girl and Atta-Girl!). I have been collecting records since I was 13, so I guess I have what most people consider a pretty big collection. I started DJing about 15 years ago in an effort to share some of the stuff that I don't think gets heard very often otherwise. I love so many kinds of music that my collection is not dedicated to just one style, it is all over the map, so when I DJ, it could be anything from '60s French yé-yé to '80s post-punk, garage, freakbeat, soul, honky tonk, metal, twee, shoegaze, and well... you get the idea. I love it all.
Going back to Dahlia Seed, I've noticed that you've always had a unique fashion style. Tell me a bit about that.
I have always been drawn to thrift store clothes and vintage dresses. During the Dahlia Seed days my boyfriend and best friend worked at X-Girl, so I was practically sponsored by them. 75% of my clothes in the mid-'90s came from there. I have always loved '60s mod fashion, but recently fell head over heels for an '80s designer named Catherine Ogust. The oversized, Asian-influenced shirt dress has proven to be the ultimate comfortable stage uniform for me. They all are super colorful, carry bold patterns, and are shapeless—which is perfect for the much chubbier me, which is what happens when you age and get run over by a car. The joke is that I don't own pants (I do), so when friends see me in something other than a dress and tights, I get teased. Pants are stupid! You read it here first [laughs].
What are the five albums you can't live without, and why?
Oh, man, this question is the worst! I can't do it. I am a crazy person with way too many records that rotate in and out of being called my favorite. However, I will say this: I have a box of 7" records that I call the "John Peel record box." Peel had a box of favorite singles he would grab if there was ever a fire in a home. I created a similar box that holds about 50 7" records. Included in this box are many genres of music, but I am heavy on the '90s indie rock: Archers of Loaf, Superchunk, Dinosaur Jr., The Replacements, Pavement, Broadcast, Heavenly, Lync, Pylon, and too many female post-punk bands to begin to mention. There are two copies of Nancy Sinatra's "Lightning's Girl" single in there (where my DJ name comes from), so I guess if I had to pick one record that I can't live without, that would be at the top of the list.
Head to Positive No's official website to find out more about the band and their upcoming shows.
Tagged: dahlia seed, positive no