Jen : Let’s start by telling us your name and your significance in your group.
Erin : Erin Harpe, a.k.a. Empress Erin - I’m the band’s lead singer, guitarist and electronics programmer, adding electronics and samples to our show. Also I’m in charge of getting the crowd riled up!
Jen : Where are you from?
Erin : The band is based out of Jamaica Plain (JP), the coolest neighborhood in Boston, where we practice and record in our basement studio.
Jim’s originally from Kingston, NY and I’m from the Washington, DC area (as is our drummer).
Jen : How did Lovewhip come about?
Erin : It was dreamed up by me and Jim in Jim’s bedroom in JP in 1998. His band Usalos had just broken up, and I’d never been in a band before. We were listening to a lot of ecclectic music from Captain Beefheart, Johnny Cash, Otis Redding, ska, to some African music I’d brought back from my semester abroad in Kenya in college. We shared a love of African music and loved listening to the Africa Kabisa radio show on local college radio. The initial idea was to take our ecclectic influences (African soukous and highlife especially) and form a new kind of dance music. We called it Booty Pop, which morphed into Electro Booty Pop. Kind of like what the Talking Heads, the Police, and the English Beat did (to name a few). We got a practice space and started inviting musicians down to jam until we found a group.
There have been so many incarnations since then. We’ve put out four albums, each one metamorphosing our dance music ethic further. We started out more traditional, ended up more futuristic and electro, always with strong dance and pop elements.
Jen : Do any of you have a musical background?
Erin : I grew up in a musical household. My dad is a blues musician (guitarist/singer), and I grew up having house parties in our home, going to folk festivals, and generally being surrounded by music. But started playing classical flute (had to be different!). Eventually, discovering that it was in my genes, I switched to guitar. First acoustic (I play acoustic blues too, like my dad), and then picked up an electric for the first time to start this band.
Jim Countryman grew up with less of a musical background, although he sought out music and was an avid listener throughout his teenage years and beyond. He has one of those encyclopedic minds for popular music -- everything from rock to metal to pop. He went to way more big concerts than me. He had a failed attempt to play drums in elementary school, but lost interest after his mom wouldn’t buy him anything more than a drum practice pad. He picked up bass in college, and fell in love. He was in several bands in his early 20’s, including a great 90’s Boston band called Usalos. We both have always had a strong DIY aesthetic, and neither of us attended music school.
We’ve had many other musicians in our band over the years. Many of them have been music students at Berklee or New England Conservatory. We’ve had horn players, percussionists, keyboard players, and even some African musicians (talking drum, dun-dun drums), guitarists, and many many drummers. Currently we’re a 3-piece (looking for a keyboardist if you know one!) so the other member is drummer Ryan Dryburgh. He’s just graduated from Berklee, and has been playing drums for years.
Jen : What’s your favorite song to perform live?
Erin : From our last album, Virtual Booty Machine has always been a really fun song to play live. We often use a strobe light for that one, and wear goggles/sunglasses! From the new album, I think it’s a toss up between Wrecking Machine and Let Go. Gets the crowd going!!!
Jen : How many videos have been made from your music, are there any plans to make more?
Erin : We’ve made two official videos, although the first, Bouncehall, was made by students at BFVF film/video school in Boston and is more funny than professional. The second video we made is Gimme That, which was made with our friends at Mystic Mirada. We do have plans to make more videos. We’re planning on making some for our new album. Stay tuned!
Jen : What kind of process goes into making videos?
Erin : For the Bouncehall video, it was all written and filmed by the students. We asked some fans to come down and be extras. It was a hoot. It was shown on the big screen at a local theatre for a Boston Music Video showcase. For Gimme That, our friend Carlos Villamil wrote a storyline -- storyboarded it out. There were two full days of shooting by Alex Gomez of Mystic Mirada. We all worked together on costumes, location (getting permission for free use of several spaces around JP). It stars myself and Jim, (and our friend Sean Slaughter as the stand-in for our drummer - who had just quit) as well as our dancers -- the Whipettes. They did all their own choreography. Jim plays a "bad guy" who steals my bike while I am busking on the street for money. But it has a happy ending! We have a handful of extras that we plucked off the street. They were awesome! There was a lot of footage, so Carlos and Alex slaved over it for a couple of months. They had something like 5 or 6 hours of video to whittle down to around 3 minutes. It turned out great!
Many thanks to Mystic Mirada!
Jen : Since your music is fun, popish and electronic about what age do you attract the most?
Erin : Well you might think that we’d attract a crowd in their early 20’s to 30’s. But I really think it is more about mindset than age. We attract fun people who want something different, fun and happy. People who like to dance. We have yet to find an age group that doesn’t like us. From children to grandparents. Really! For this reason we’ve played a lot of municipal events and festivals, ski resorts, and even weddings. Hey if anyone out there is getting married, look us up!
Jen : Do you all listen to other types of music besides the type you make and perform?
Erin : Blues, hip-hop, African music, reggae, just about anything but jambands and mind music. We really like body and soul music.
Jen : What are your ambitions or dreams for Lovewhip?
Erin : Our humblest of dreams has always been to be able to eek out a living solely from music. We’re not there yet, and in this economy it’s a lot to ask. But we’re willing to sacrifice... we work very hard at it. Our plans include playing many more festivals throughout the country, Europe and beyond, and promoting our upcoming album (our best yet!) "Love Electric" internationally. We’ll see where that takes us! Love Electric comes out this July. Go to our website www.lovewhip.net to sign up for our mailing list to find out more.
Jen: What would you like to tell your fans & new found fans?
Erin : We are here to make you happy!
If you come out to a show, you’re going to have a great time and dance all night! Our new album is the best thing we’ve done yet, the perfect
summertime album full of summertime jamz.We’re going to have a very interesting release, where anything you buy from us at our shows or on our site (www.lovewhip.net) -- t-shirts, sexy thongs, hoodies... you’ll get the music free with purchase.
We’re also going to have CD’s available, for those of you "old school" music consumers!
We appreciate all the support we’ve gotten through the years. Thanks party people!!!!
Please write to us and let us know where to play in your area!
Jen : Thanks so much for the opportunity to interview you. Have a great day!
Erin : Thanks so much Jen. You have a great day to!