How long have y’all been out in Los Angeles? What opportunities attracted you to LA?
So I’ve been in LA, It’s been three years now. I came here to try and do the film and television thing – to direct my own projects, develop a tv show. It felt like in New Orleans I’d gotten to a really good place in casting but the next natural step was to take it to the next level in Los Angeles where the business of film happens.
What are some things you like more about being out there than in New Orleans?
I feel like LA does a great job of giving you that big city experience, but you get a little bit more space here and it’s a little bit less of a grind. You can still carve out a niche for yourself but live a laid back comfortable life. It’s easy to take what you like from it but to build a better version of it. I just like having access to the hustle and bustle when I want it but being able to chill in my garage in my backyard when I need that. New Orleans definitely has this quality too, but it still feels like the wild west out here.
What’s the best part about being in a band in Los Angeles?
I’ve never been in a place where being in a band is so respected. LA’s the place where people’s dreams, no matter how vain or ridiculous they may be, are still entertained, nurtured, and supported. So, for a hopeful band, there are people here that will support you, that will listen to your music. If they genuinely connect with the music, they’ll support you for it. They’ll come to your shows. They’ll pay for your merchandise. They’ll buy your shirts. LA is such a big place that any night you play a show could be to a new crowd because there are so many people here, you know. I’ve never been in a place where being in a band is so respected and admired.
We were able to move to a neighborhood called Highland Park. It’s really cool, a mix of Latino families, but also young people that moved out of Echo Park. We have a three bedroom house with a backyard and a garage. In LA you can have that space, that garage where you can crank your amps and play really loud. So the music definitely skews to more of a garage, psych, punk aesthetic, I think.
There’s a big punk, like, psych thing happening here. Ty Segall is huge and prolific in the amount of songs he’s putting out and bands he’s playing with. It’s spawned these really great bands like Wand. There’s great power rock happening right now in LA. These great players that can solo and play really fast. It’s sort of punk inspired. There’s a bit of, like, old school machismo mixed in. It’s done with a laissez faire, don’t-give-a-fuck attitude. It’s slacker rock, but to sound like that you have to work really hard. So there’s nothing slack about it.
I feel like from the get-go the vision has always been to focus on our strengths, you know what I mean. Besides writing music, which we love and we do passionately, we also feel really passionately about film. Jacques and I are both writer/directors, so it felt like to cater to those strengths it would be fun to write these songs but then also try to create other lives for them. I love cutting to music and using music in a scoring sense. So the idea of making a video, like a cooking video, with our own music seems really fun.
I want to make a video where I teach people how to make weed butter, or as I call it, “California butter.” The first time I made it I was trying to find out and I’m like sifting through all these ridiculous marijuana forums and there’s just no straight answer. So I thought it would be fun to make a video that explains in actual detail how to make the butter. But also sort of like caters to the personality of the band and is a platform to use our music in the background. We thought it would be fun to create a life for the music outside of just as a song.
I didn’t want to feel like i’m filtering myself. I have these moments where I wonder if this is just a ridiculous idea to make a weed butter video, but when I question myself, I end up realizing it’s an idea worth doing. Do you feel like it will connect with people? Yeah, then that’s a good reason to do it. Too much energy can go into tailoring the way you’re perceived and you might lose something in that transliteration.
It’s been fun. The band has been exciting because I feel like this band is the band I’ve wanted to play in my whole life. I feel like i’m finally old enough and mature enough to make music that I’m not afraid of. With this project every song is just a totally honest, like, this is exactly how I feel, this is a real thought, and this is 100% what I stand for.
So when I go and perform the songs it feels good because I’m not hiding behind anything. It feels good to go out there and be able to announce your fears to the world, and your regrets, but to be accepted for them because you’re packaging them in this loud fun rock and roll kind way. You’re basically getting a therapy session where you’re getting to pour your heart and soul out. Music has that interesting way of, like, it can be just experienced as this audio thing – just the emotion of it and how it makes you feel. You don’t have to listen to the words, but you can go deeper, listen to the words, and realize there’s a story there. As a storyteller and as a writer I love songs as tool to tell a story because you have this music that can dictate an emotion and a tone and you can also take the words and play with that or support what you’re saying. For Lenguas, I feel like we’ve done a cool job of contrasting those things, like, we take something sad and contrast it with music that’s upbeat and fun -- taking something rotten and wrapping it in a candy shell.
In New Orleans you just grow up listening to great music all the time. Like Tix FM. Or you’re at the doctor’s office or the dentist and they’re playing a great record. Everywhere you go you’re just like hearing great music.
We were really inspired by the NOLA stuff that we grew up listening to, it just permeated into your life. So we’re influenced by that and like the marching bands at mardi gras parades, and Irma Thomas songs. With Jacques’ song “9-5” he wanted to write an Irma Thomas song. We love Fats Domino and Lee Dorsey, like Al “Carnival Time” Johnston. The stuff we heard all the time and took for granted. Then you get older and realize not everyone had that sort of musical heritage or access to that. And combining that with 70’s punk rock like Richard Hell, Lou Reed, the Velvet Underground, the Modern Lovers. It felt like this really fun new territory and I’m just singing about heartache
Do you miss New Orleans? Are there places you go or things you do in LA to deal with it?
I miss New Orleans dearly. I miss it everyday. I miss my family. I miss my friends. I miss the humidity. I miss the warm nights – where you go outside and it feels like a wet blanket has been laid on your chest. But I love that. that to me is home and comfort and I miss it. I miss the lake. I miss being on the water and the calm that comes from that. The sound of the water washing up on the steps along Lake Pontchartrain. I miss that.
(In LA) I go to the ocean a lot. It’s nice to be by the water and have that reminder that we’re on a planet hurtling through space. The waves just never stop. They’re endless. My two roommates and bandmates, are also from New Orleans and having them here it feels like we have our own New Orleans collective. They remind me of home and having them here gives me a piece of that.
How often do you make it back to New Orleans?
I make it back to New Orleans a lot less often than I want to. Two or three times a year because of my brothers getting married or Christmas. Marriages and holidays.
What are some of your favorite places in New Orleans?
I love Lake Pontchartrain, West End, the back alleys of Lakeview, The Fly and driving down Magazine Street through Audubon Park and seeing the trees. I love Esplanade and the oak trees.
What are your favorite venues in New Orleans? Where would you most like to play?
We would definitely want to play the Spellcaster. I’ve always wanted to play the Spellcaster, it’s definitely my favorite venue and there’ve been some incredible shows there. One of the coolest shows I ever saw there was King Kahn and the Shrines. That was just one of the most amazing shows I’ve ever seen. Yeah, playing with Quintron at the Spellcaster would be the highest honor. He’s such an amazing outside of the box musician who did exactly what he wanted to do. Challenge the way people think about music and the way it fits into our lives. The thing he did with weather for the blind. We just talked about how endless the weather is and the ocean, and to be able to turn that into music is really interesting…
I love the Circle Bar. It’s such an intimate and fun place. Sort of like an island. I love playing The Saint. The Saint was always just a great time. You could start whenever you wanted, just play with your friends at midnight and it was such a good time. Like, the first band would start at midnight. I love the Pearl. That was also just, like, the coolest place. Playing in a living room, in front of a doorway. But it just being this total isolated community that was its own little world. It was its own little bubble. I feel like New Orleans does that really well – it’s amazing at creating its own little bubble around the art that is fueling the bubble. Like a really good brass band show… just being lost in that moment. Like that’s the only place that exists in this moment right now. It’s just like its own little world.
What/Where is your first meal back home?
Whenever I get back I always want to eat seafood. I ask my Mom to make fish.
And then I’ll get fried catfish. I’ve been hitting up the High Hat Cafe a lot lately, because I love the combination of catfish and mac & cheese. And and I feel like they do both of those things pretty well. It’s not my number one place for catfish or my number one place for mac & cheese but combined…
I love Pizza Delicious, and I miss Pizza Delicious. That’s always one of my first places back. And I know that New Orleans has famously terrible pizza, but that makes Pizza Delicious so much better, because it’s great. Honestly when I go home I want to eat my Mom’s food first, you know what I mean.
I always want to get Vietnamese food, I always want to get pho when I get back.