Meet Apricots Cherries, a four piece band from Portland, Oregon. Self described as “funtime bubblegum with an electric banjo and a keytar. Wierdoz living in Gnarnia with a rock ‘n’ roll obsession”.
You can hear their love of creating music in the moment, willingness to experiment, and appreciation for lo-fi and analog. They have a set of demos, an EP, and a recording of a live performance available on their Bandcamp, all complete with handmade artwork. We spoke with Gabrielle, one of the singers who also has a side solo project called Style Swenson.
What other bands influence your style as Apricots Cherries? I hear a slight Shannon & The Clams vibe as well as a little bit of B-52s (particularly on Sea Kelp, Seek Help) but a lot more experimental and psychedelic. On the demos I can’t help but hear a little bit of Vivian Girls.
In my opinion, Apricots Cherries is mostly influenced by psychedelic garage rock from the 60’s and surf music. All of us have pretty different musical backgrounds though. I listened to Shannon & The Clams a lot in high school, Shannon Shaw is a queen and very inspirational, so I guess you could say they were influential. No one has ever mentioned the B-52’s when talking about our sound but I totally hear it now. We usually get Jefferson Airplane (which is super flattering!).
How did the band start?
Chloe and I met our freshman year in college and originally formed the band as an acoustic duet. She played banjo and I sung/kept the beat with a tambourine. The songs we were writing (like Sea Kelp, Seek Help! and Integratron for example) were much bigger than the minimal acoustic crap so we recruited more people. Chloe’s boyfriend is an incredible keyboardist so we got him involved. (The three of us were previously in a band called P.O.T. [Phallic Orchid Tigers] that was short lived and only practiced right before shows). Apricots Cherries needed a drummer bad and we got lucky. I saw a kid with a Burger Records button so I stopped to chat. It turned out he played the drums and we all started playing together.
How do the songs come together? Does it start with lyrics or a melody or do you jam and let things fall into place?
All three usually. The Melodies are mostly written by Chloe and Cole. It’s all pretty collaborative. Sometimes Chloe and I come into practice with an idea or a vibe, sometimes the boys start jamming and we follow along. In general I write all of the words, bubblegum lyrics are really fun to play around with.
What was the first album you ever bought?
To be honest, Baby One More Time by Britney Spears. But I was probably five years old. I think my first vinyl purchase was a Growlers record when I was sixteen. Now I’m an avid music collector! Along with my fellow bandmates. Most of us have radio shows.
How do you record the music?
Right now all of our recordings are very rough. That’s due to our lack of time and proper equipment. We’re all full time students at Reed College in Portland Oregon. The first EP was recorded hastily after three weeks of being together. We borrowed mics from friends and Cole the keytarist mixed the files. The vocals were recorded in a dorm bathroom. Our demos however weren’t recorded with the intention of ever uploading them. We threw a little 90’s panisonic tape player in the corner of the room and pressed record every practice. I ended up digging one of our practice tapes so late one night I had a friend rip the files for me. They’re super lofi because of how they were recorded but it’s all analog. Our most recent stuff was recorded during one of our live shows. It has more energy because of the audience and really captures our attitude I think.
What is “I can’t take you seriously” about?
HAHAHA. It was written because none of us can take anything seriously. People are too uptight and disingenuine. It bores us. Chloe and I laugh at everything and that song is kinda a reflection of our attitude towards the world.
Where does the name Apricots Cherries come from?
We got the name from a run down fruit stand sign in Central California. Chloe and I were driving up to the Bay Area from Joshua Tree when we saw a huge old sign that simply read “APRICOTS CHERRIES”. I mentioned that it would be a cool band name and we had been jamming in the desert for a few days. Making a group and calling it that just felt right. It’s kind of the title of our mini empire now. Chloe and I have a radio show aptly named Apricots Cherries and an etsy as well. You can tune into our radio show Sundays at 4pm pacific time at krrcfm.com. Some of our archives are also uploaded to soundcloud. https://soundcloud.com/apricots-cherries-radio/apricots-cherries-rock-n-roll-radio-show-092814
Any plans for future albums or shows?
We’re playing a show on February Friday the 13th! This will be the first show with our original line up since last April. Our drummer has been in New Jersey for the past few months. We are hoping to have newer and better recordings by May 2015!
If you could choose anyone to collaborate with, who would it be?
In a different dimension I’d work with Kim Fowley. He’s gone now, and it would never happen, even if he was still kicking, but I’m a dreamer and he’s a rock ‘n’ roll god.
As Style Swenson, what equipment do you use to create the sounds?
Very very diverse stuff. Style Swenson is kind of like my synesthetic and artistic vomit. “Waste of Time” is mostly a monotribe. “I Ruined the Ambient Sound” is a guitar and several pedals including a looper. The others I make with Cakewalk which is music software made by sony.
What inspires the sound of Style Swenson?
Synesthesia, OCD, pop, and experimentation. I have a bunch of tracks that I haven’t uploaded. Whenever I’m feeling trapped or particularly reclusive I make stuff for Style Swenson. It’s more like a diary. I put sounds to the colors I feel.
What are your favorite songs under both Apricots Cherries and Style Swenson?
Out of the recordings, “Sea Kelp Seek Help!” from Apricots Cherries’ first EP is our first and best song. I also like “Sunshine Baby” which can be found on our demos (the recording is rough but the song’s a keeper!). “I Can’t Take You Seriously” is one of my favorites out of our live at Chittick stuff. The live version of “El Espia” is great too!
“Laced in Sin” is probably my best and most palatable Style Swenson song but I like “Waste of Time”.
When did you start creating music?
My parents were hippies so my first instrument was a little bongo drum that I’ve had for longer than I can remember. Next I got a kids key board. I used to make music (or rather noises) on that stuff for hours. I didn’t start taking it kinda seriously though until college.
We’re excited to see what Apricots Cherries and Style Swenson will bring us this year, and we will keep you updated with future news. In the meantime, be sure to check out:
Their Bandcamp- http://apricotscherries.bandcamp.com/album/demos
Radio station archives on soundcloud-https://soundcloud.com/apricots-cherries-radio
Listen to their radio show live on Sundays at 4 pm- http://www.krrcfm.com
Their Etsy shop –https://www.etsy.com/shop/ApricotsCherries
HUGE thank you to the band for giving helixandnonet our very first interview!!