L.A. Girlfriend (aka Sydney Banta) returns by dropping her sophomore LP Neon Grey. The superb album is the blatant result of Banta giving a modern edge to her obsession of ’80s post-punk and synthpop –or as she describes, “a soundtrack for lonely lovers that want to dance out the darkness.” Here’s the Pixies-channeling track “Swoon.”
“I got a fever of dreams that changes all the time.”
We wanted to know more about L.A. Girlfriend so we asked Banta a few questions.
If you ever moved to another city, do you think you would have to change your moniker?
“Never! I like to think of L.A. Girlfriend as a state of mind instead of a reference to where I’m physically located. I’m a California girl at heart too, so if I ever left, I’d definitely be bringing home with me. Changing the name would be changing my whole identity.”
How did you come up with the title of your new album Neon Grey?
“I came up with the title based on reflection of my own life. I noticed the ups and downs that were affecting me in various ways and realized, despite there being a void of simplistic black-and-white choices and circumstances, I had to embrace the uncertainty of living in ‘the grey.’ No matter what happens in life, I always want to be optimistic and bright sort of speak. The title Neon Grey is my way of combining good and bad and making it into something totally new.”
Did you have help recording it?
“I wrote and produced the entire album myself, but I did have help in tracking guitars, bass, and vocals. Celso Estrada of Kingsize Soundlabs was my wizard of recording and engineering and my bassist Nathan came in to play a few parts. Other than that, I took on guitar duties and vocals. I like keeping the process tight knit.”
What’s the biggest difference between this release and your last EP, Varsity, and LP Viva?
“Viva was more analog driven; live guitars, live bass, and live drum sounds. The Varsity EP leaned on the electronic side with synth-heavy sounds and drum machines. I really like elements from both sides and I think of Neon Grey as the marriage between the two. Since the subject matter of Neon Grey is more serious from a lyrical point than previous releases, sonically the album as a whole is heavier and darker –my electro analog thunderstorm of a dream come true.”
You admit that your sound is heavily influenced by ’80s counterculture. Do you wish you could travel back to that era or are you content with the present?
“Honestly, if I were to travel back, I’m not sure I would appreciate it as much as I do now. That’s why I have my cool parents to show me the best of the best. We usually watch ’80s music videos whenever I visit them, and for me, it’s an awesome way to relive the era through their eyes. I’d probably only go back to the ’80s for a day to watch my mom recommend albums to customers at the record shop where she worked and see my dad shred on a skateboard.”
The new album’s cover art features a rad, custom “LAGF” ring. Where did it come from?
“My good friend Bobby Allen started a custom jewelry business called The Circle Craft a while back and has since made some pretty amazing things out of bronze and other metals. He’s responsible for the ring and the eons of happiness I feel whenever I wear it. Definitely my go-to jewelry guy.”
What can we expect from you next?
“Coming up, I have a big Neon Grey party happening at Resident in Downtown L.A. on February 19th. After that, at least two more videos in support of the LP and a slew of shows that might take me to different states. It’d be sick to play FYF this year, but other than that, the plan is to keep going onward and upward.”
L.A. Girlfriend will perform on February 19th at Resident.