By Alex Tebeleff
Hey everyone, my name is Alex and this column is called DC DIT. I find the DIT mantra of Do It Together exemplifies more of what I hope my participation in the DC music scene will contribute as opposed to Do it Yourself. My goal is to connect people with creative ideas and interests and help grow a scene that features a remarkable amount of intelligent and talented musicians.
Brooklyn’s Tiny Victories entered my radar when they were a last minute show in the early days of the Paperhaus. Someone I really trusted with music asked me to help them out, and although I wasn’t really a fan of electro pop at the time, I agreed. I thought their recordings were good and would likely lend to a fun live show. Luckily, I was right. It ended up being the first truly great show at our space. Their energy and performance absolutely took over the audience. It was one of the main shows that made me committed to putting on more shows, more long term, as my way of contributing to the community here in DC.
I’m featuring an interview with Greg Walters of Tiny Victories in this weeks’ DC DIT column because he’s originally from the DC area. I think it’s worth getting some perspective from someone with experience in our city who has found success somewhere else.
When and how did music become your main life pursuit?
I’ve always played a lot of music, but it was on the back burner. I grew up in Kensington, Maryland, playing a hell of a lot of guitar and not taking it very seriously. I guess it just didn’t seem like a viable option as a career path. So instead I moved to Russia after college to be a journalist, and I did that for a few years. I liked it but that’s an exhausting lifestyle. At a certain point I decided, what the hell, I was going to try making music my main thing. You only live once, right? So I picked up and moved to New York. My younger brother Doug was already in New York playing with his band, Red Wire Black Wire. I met our drummer, Cason, through Doug. Cason had been doing foster work with inner city kids and we were sort of in similar places in life. So we started playing music together. At first we were making totally bizarre, probably un-listenable, electronic bleep-bloop stuff with samplers. After a while we started to focus on crafting actual songs.
What artists have inspired you the most in making your music?
Neither of us actually listened to much electronic music before we started making it. We both grew up on rock. So I approached playing the samplers live as if I were playing a guitar, in terms of chords and composition. I actually listened to a hell of a lot of The Grateful Dead growing up, and they’re still one of my favorite bands. I love their mix of solid old-fashioned song-writing with experimentation, weird sounds and the willingness to take huge risks.
For our new full-length album, Haunts, we worked with Alex Aldi as producer and mixer. He’s amazing. We wanted to make a record that combined interesting electronic sounds with crisp production, and he was perfect for that. He’s worked with Passion Pit and Holy Ghost! in the past, and we thought he was a great fit for what we were going for.
Tell us a little about your roots in DC.
I grew up right outside DC and went to B-CC for high school. I used to play underage shows at the Grog and Tankard in Northwest, and sneak onto golf courses with acoustic guitars in the middle of the night. I played bass in a couple go-go bands. I’ve always kind of wondered why go-go didn’t get bigger outside DC.
What’s your experience like as a musician in Brooklyn? How do you feel about the industry up there?
Brooklyn is an amazing place to make music. You get the impression that musicians move there because so many of their musician friends already live there. There are so many bands. And that creates a lot of friendly competition, and I think it makes people work harder to make better music.
What do you think about the current DC music scene?
I’m a little bit out of the loop nowadays about the DC scene. But it seems there are a bunch of really interesting projects bubbling up, and that several of them could be on the cusp of getting a lot more attention nationally. We’ve played with some awesome DC bands. Deleted Scenes, for example, is an amazing band that is way overdue for much more recognition. U.S. Royalty is another example. And Paperhaus, too, for sure.
You can check out Tiny Victories this Friday night at Rock and Roll Hotel opening for Honest Haloway at HH’s single release show. Pleasure Curses is also on the bill. You can also check out DIT shows every night this week…
This show is an event that launches a fantastic DIY festival, In It Together Fest, celebrating DC’s DIY music, arts, and activist culture and house show scene. Most of the house venues in DC are participating July 31st-Aug. 3rd, with a main event on August 2nd at St. Stephens Church. Passing Phases makes some of the best power pop around, don’t miss ‘em. Chicago’s The Funs make psyched out art punk. Brooklyn’s shoegaze outfit Heaven’s Gate and DC’s own Go Cozy open up this really well put together rock bill.
Classic early punk show at The Rocketship. Originally from DC, Philly’s The Ambulars are one of the best indie pop bands this city has birthed, and Delay and Martha fit right in. DC’s Jail Solidarity adds a little heavier diversity to the bill.
Atlanta’s Dog Bite puts out shoegazey rock records through Carpark, a very successful indie label, based just outside of DC, that’s been a big incubator for artists on the rise like Dan Deacon, Beach House, Toro Y Moi, Cloud Nothings and Speedy Ortiz. The Sea Life put out one of the best recordings so far this year in DC, and their live show captures that energy really well. Dullard is the new solo project from Ramtin Arablouei of Drop Electric. Check out last week’s column and interview with Ramtin for more info on Dullard.
Killer all-ages metal show at Comet.
Really great bill at Union Arts presented by Deep Space Arts. If you haven’t seen Pygmy Lush before, go to this show. They are one of the best groups to come from the DC area over the past decade, whether in their more alternative, or in this case hardcore, variations.
I’ve been hearing nothing but great things about DC’s Crumms, and I’m looking forward to seeing them at yet another show at Ft. Loko (now DC’s most active house venue?). What Moon Things are a fantastic post punk band from upstate NY that are definitely worth your time, and match perfectly with Midwest post punk super group Xerox. DC noise act Radiator Greys opens.
Synths, synths, and more synths?
If you are looking to dance to some live electro pop, it ain’t going to get better than this folks.
Art punk, garage, and indie at this all-ages show at The Pinch.
For those reading this who haven’t experienced DC’s amazing hardcore scene, this would be a great place to start. This show features bands from Baltimore and California as well. Positive Force shows at St. Stephens are almost always worth your time.
Garage, psych, and proto-punk at this all-ages show at Comet.
An all day party at Union Market. Lots of DJ’s and electronic acts, I’d particularly recommend checking out Animal Collective’s very eclectic DJ set, it’s usually really fantastic.
There’s isn’t a more beautiful place in DC to see a show than at the Luce center, and I can’t imagine a better musical choice than Marian & Ethan! The way they create atmosphere and a sense of space will be the kind of performance to give you goosebumps in a venue like this.
Lost Civilizations has been one of the most interesting long running music projects in DC, focusing on experimental improvised music with a large selection of top quality musicians joining mainstays Ted Zook and Mike Sebastian. They are hosting a series of shows at Black Squirrel throughout the summer, with Audrey White and Utenzil joining them for this bill.