If you’ve seen the video for “She Smokes in Bed,” by L.A. band TV Girl, then you know that, aside from a knack for sunny-sad indie-pop, they’ve also got a wiseass sense of humor. We asked Trung Ngo and Brad Petering to document their trip to New York City for CMJ last week so we could get a never before seen, exclusive look at what it’s like to be a musician on the road. The results were fun. Check out their latest, Lonely Women, here.
Hey. This is Brad of semi-popular indie rock band TV Girl. Have you ever wondered what it’s like being in a semi-popular indie rock band? Even though you’ll never truly understand what it’s like, the staggering highs, the devastating lows, the soft creamy middles, I’ll nevertheless try to give you the briefest of fleeting glimpses into the great Indie Rock dream.
TV Girl is currently working on our first album. Debut albums are very important, or so I’m told. After all, this is the document that will elevate us from impoverished buzz band to world-conquering Vampire Weekend-esque levels of Indie Stardom. So these days, most of my time is spent working on the album. Here is an exclusive behind the scenes look at my recording set-up.
- Audio Interface: This is the machine that translates the brilliant ideas floating in my head into highly consumable content by the general populace.
- Cheap Microphone: The lower the quality of the microphone, the grittier the tone, the more authentic I seem. Very important.
- E-Cigarette: During the tedious process of recording and mixing, you need to absent-mindedly puff on something or you’ll go insane. Cigarettes are perfect but have the unfortunate side effects of destroying your singing voice and killing you. I had to switch to their less satisfying digital counterparts.
- Regular Cigarettes: To reward myself for being so good and smoking my E-Cigarette instead of real cigarettes.
- Red Bull (Sugar Free): During the process of creation, every artist goes through stages where they realize that they are complete frauds and that everything they’ve ever done is complete shit, thus sending them into a paralyzing catatonic coma. Red Bull and other caffeinated beverages are good ways to artificially boost your self-perception and avoid a downward spiral.
- Idea Book: For lyrics, song structures, etc.
- Macbook Pro: Who needs a fancy recording studio? If a MacBook is good enough for Grammy Award winner Skrillex, then it’s good enough for me! Protip: If you record on a MacBook “Pro,” feel free to refer to yourself as a “professional” musician.
- M&Ms (Peanut): There’s something about binge eating junk food that aids the creative process. I don’t know what it is, but nothing will kill a recording session faster than a Kale Salad.
My microphone may be cheap, but it’s still “high quality.” It says so right on the box!
If you have a good idea regarding your music, make sure to write it down so you don’t forget.
In order to reach Vampire Weekend-level Indie-Status, sometimes it’s necessary to participate in the “industry game.” This year, TV Girl ventured out to New York to play five shows at CMJ. For those that don’t know, CMJ is an industry-focused music festival where hundreds of bands play showcases and compete for their slice of the “buzz pie,” all in hopes that they will be “discovered” and be able to turn their worthless artistic expression into a profitable small business.
Here is a photograph of us performing at one of these showcases. I don’t want to spread unconfirmed rumors here, but I heard that one of the members of Passion Pit was in attendance at this gig. What could this mean for the future of TV Girl? Only time will tell.
Here is me and the band, probably on our way to a big make-it or break-it showcase. As you can see, spirits were high.
But, of course, playing music is only a small part of what CMJ is about. More than anything, CMJ is about seeing, and more importantly, being seen with the right celebs and influential people.
Here I am with a picture of possibly my favorite person of all time. Yes, that is writer, poet, artist, and greatest skateboarder of all time Mark Gonzales. He insisted on taking the pic.
While we were in New York, very famous and wealthy “street artist” Banksy was doing some kind of month long residency, putting new pieces up around the city every morning and tweeting out their locations. As you can see, I found this piece very provocative and moving.
I actually got to see a piece by one of my actual favorite street artists. This is basically his calling card. A stencil of a young boys face, allegedly a childhood friend of the artist who took his own life at a young age. Speaking of Banksy, Borf makes a brief cameo in Banksy’s film Exit Through the Gift Shop, spray painting a wall with “Sorry About Your Wall. – Borf” Genius. I recommend further researching Borf and his art on Wikipedia.
This grainy picture doesn’t really do it justice, but this was perhaps my favorite performance that I saw during CMJ. It took place in the artist’s apartment and mostly consisted of him making screeching noise over creepy projections, but the kicker was that he was taking huge rips of nitrous out of whipped cream cans the whole time. Hilariously pretentious BS? Perhaps. But none other than Indie-Rock Dream-Boat Mac DeMarco seemed to be enjoy it! (the young man in the green hat towards the bottom left hand corner of the photograph.)
Another highlight was meeting my URL bud Sam Ray IRL at the very poppin’ Orchid Tapes rooftop showcase. Sam plays in Ricky Eat Acid, Julia Brown, and was the brains behind the beloved and now defunct Teen Suicide. I jumped at the chance to associate myself with the budding young star.
At the end of 5 days, we were exhausted from playing shows and constantly being tortured by the scores of beautiful women infesting New York City streets. Here we are asleep at the airport, waiting to return to LA and dreaming of the Indie-Rockstar lifestyle that awaits us.