BTR Artists On Tour: Dum Dum Girls, Matt & Kim, and Wye Oak

Time to board the BTR tour bus again! This month we get the skinny behind life on the road from The Dum Dum Girl’s Dee Dee!  Plus, a look at two sweetheart sets–Brooklyn’s unstoppable dance duo Matt & Kim, and Baltimore’s folk rock innovators Wye Oak– both are playing the upcoming NYC Siren Fest!

Several of our favorite artists will be stopping there to strut their stuff before traveling on to the next town, and BTR gets to come too.  We’ll have a booth complete with giveaway goodies, so make your way to Coney Island and come check it out!

Dum Dum Girls (Photo by Jack Plunkett)

Sub Pop artists the Dum Dum Girls have had a big year of firsts. In 2010 the group has released their first full length album, I Will Be, they played SXSW for the first time, and just wrapped their first official European tour. All of these accomplishments and it’s not even July. The ladies-about-town, comprised of lead singer and founder Dee Dee Penny and her three friends Jules, Bambi, and Sandra Vu, have given the production qualities and structure of ’60’s girl groups a makeover for today’s music scene, writing on topics from psychedelic drugs (“Bhang Bhang, I’m A Burnout” ) to the identity theft of religion (“Catholicked“).  Informed not only by the age of the beehive but by all subsequent musical decades as well, DDGs spin punk and garage-rock inspired licks into music, coloring the edges of sugar-pop with a darker crayon.

Not surprisingly, I Will Be was produced by Richard Gottehrer, songwriter of ’80’s girl group resurgence hits “My Boyfriend’s Back,” and “I Want Candy,” as well as producer for vintage-singed rock peers The Raveonettes. A perfect fit for the retro sounds of Dum Dum Girls, who have paused, briefly, before heading back out on the road, ping-ponging from the U.S. to Europe and back through October. Dee Dee took some of that precious time to share a bit of her road-wise perspective.

BTR:  You just finished your first major European tour. How was it?
DD:  It was overwhelmingly great. I had a hard time accepting it was really happening. Collecting all of these priceless memories in cities all over, playing my songs with the girls, seems too good to be true. Primavera was a perfect, surreal ending.

BTR:  Any new favorite places?
DD:  Ravenna, Italy — a wild, beach side show preceded by a delicious meal.

BTR:  Discover any lovely new foods?
DD:  A secret cocktail in Venice, Italy consisting of strawberry-banana puree, vodka, and something else.

BTR:  Do any good shopping?
DD:  London for vintage shoes and outrageous stage wear, and Barcelona for Deadstock sunglasses and yet another black dress.

BTR:  How do you entertain yourself out on the road?  Any current favorite podcasts, albums, books, or must-watch hotel TV?
DD:  Yoga podcasts, prank call downloads from Longmont Potion Castle, autobiographies, Rimbaud, and BBC World News.

BTR: Are you inspired to write new stuff on your travels?
DD:  I store it up on tour and it spills out when I get home.

BTR:  Looks like it will be a busy summer for the girls; what are your fall plans?
DD:  New EP, our own USA tour.

Keep that promise for new material on your radar, and in the meantime be on the lookout for four women dressed in black with killer rock hooks headed to a city near you. Plus listen up for music from the Dum Dum Girls spinning here on BTR!

Dum Dum Girls Live:

June 30 – Bottom of the Hill* – San Francisco, CA
July 01 – Echo* – Los Angeles, CA
July 02 – Casbah* – San Deigo, CA
July 03 – Detroit Bar* – Costa Mesa, CA
July 15 – Slottsfjell Festival – Tonsberg, Norway
July 16 – Arvika Festival – Arvika, Sweden
July 17 – Bakken – Copenhagen, Denmark
July 18 – Dour Festival – Dour, Belgium
July 20 – Handelsbeurs – Ghent, Belgium
July 22 – Valkhof Affaire – Nijmegen, Netherlands
July 23 – Glazart – Paris, France
July 24 – The 1234 Festival – London, United Kingdom
July 25 – Tramlines Festival – Sheffield, United Kingdom
July 26 – The Cluny – Newcastle, United Kingdom
July 27 – Cabaret Voltaire – Edinburgh, United Kingdom
July 28 – Sound Control – Manchester, United Kingdom
July 30 – TBC – London, United Kingdom
August 1 – Soundlabs Festival – Rosetto Degli Abruzzi, Italy
August 2 – Soundlabs Festival – Rosetto Degli Abruzzi, Italy
August 5 – Plage de Rock Festival – St. Tropez, France
August 6 – Rote Fabrik – Zurich, Switzerland

* = w/ Crocodiles

Matt & Kim (Photo by Tod Seelie)

Matt & Kim are Brooklyn dance punk darlings Matt Johnson and Kim Schifino. The pair met while attending Pratt Institute, started dating, then started music in 2004 and haven’t looked back since. They prove that necessity is indeed the mother of invention with their full steam ahead approach that found them learning their instruments after deciding to start a band. While the approach might seem backwards to some, it has allowed Matt & Kim a certain freedom to risk, to play and to (gasp!) have fun with their new endeavors—luxuries that some artists, caught up in the worries of “the industry,” can’t always seem to afford.

This is not to say the two don’t take their music and business efforts seriously. Within two short years, they had built a formidable online following through sheer DIY determination, playing in any and every venue possible and utilizing social networks to their full grassroots marketing capacity. Known for dazzling audiences both large and small with an inexhaustable enthusiasm, their success seems to follow a simple but fail-proof recipe: 1)  write a kick-ass pop song 2) spread the word online, then 3) shake your booty in live concert for 45 min to 1 hour. When asked in an Each Note Secure interview about what keeps them inspired on the road, Matt admitted that they often play top 40 hip-hop, defending its potential for creative ingenuity within the industry.

Matt & Kim’s first self-titled album came out in the fall of 2006, followed by Grand in 2009 with the Fader Label. Grand’s hit single “Daylight” has been remixed several times and featured in a whole slew of media slots ranging from NBC’s “Community” to a fully translated “Simlish” version on The Sims 3’s indie rock “radio” station.  2009 brought them both an MTV Breakthrough Video award and a Best Video Woodie for “Lessons Learned” .

No strangers to Siren Fest, Matt and Kim played the Stillwell Stage back in 2007 but this year marks their first return. Even if you can’t catch them on Coney Island, they’ll be touring pretty rigorously through the Midwest until September so do your best to hunt them down!  (Rumor has it that Kim has been known to try crowd-top booty dancing, so stick close to the front.)

Matt & Kim Live:

July 3 – The Piazza at Schmidts – Philadelphia, PA
July 6 – Lupos Heartbreak Hotel – Providence, RI
July 17 – Siren Festival – Brooklyn, NY
August 1 – Naeba Ski Resort – Niigata, Japan
August 6 – Lollapalooza – Chicago, IL
August 20 – Pukkelpop Festival – Kiewit, Hasselt, Belgium
September 15 – The Westcott Theater – Syracuse, NY
September 16 – The Beachland Ballroom – Cleveland, OH
September 17 – Newport Music Hall – Columbus, OH
September 18 – Majestic Theater – Detroit, MI
September 19 – Metro – Chicago, IL
September 21 – Majestic Theater – Madison, WI
September 22 – First Ave – Minneapolis, MN
September 23 – The Granada Theatre – Lawrence, KS
September 24 – Ogden Theater – Denver, CO
September 27 – Rickshaw Theatre – Vanouver, BC
September 27 – Showbox at the Market – Seattle, WA
September 29 – Roseland Theater – Portland, OR
September 30 – The Fillmore – San Francisco, CA
October 1 – House of Blues – San Diego, CA
October 2 – Henry Fonda Theater/Music Box – Los Angeles, CA
October 6 – The Clubhouse – Tempe, AZ
October 8 – House of Blues – Dallas, TX
October 9 – Austin City Limits Festival – Austin, TX
October 12 – House of Blues – New Orleans, LA

Wye Oak (Photo courtesy of Wye Oak)

This year’s Siren Fest has a bit of a romantic theme with quite a few musically gifted duos playing the festival. Falling in line with this theme, Baltimore’s Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack are the pair behind the indie folk rock sounds of Wye Oak. Like their pop counterparts Matt & Kim, Jenn and Andy also formed through necessity, looking fruitlessly for other members before realizing they would need to be self-sufficient to find the sound they sought. So, while Andy keeps busy on simultaneous drums and keyboard, Jenn works with guitar and sings lead with a voice both tough and tender. The sound they create, like fellow Baltimore-based duo Beach House, is surprisingly powerful for such an intimate set-up. Personalizing the political and vice versa, the duo has drawn comparisons to indie vets Yo La Tengo, but if there is an invocation to be detected here it lies more with the roots-folk vibe of Fakebook than the “iconic” YLT sound of I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One.

Their debut If Children was first released independently in 2007, then again after signing with Merge in 2008. A sophomore album The Knot came out in 2009 to resounding critical praise, the band having successfully deepened the music and solidified their identity. With lyrics like “My creator/Doesn’t make a good neighbor,” April’s EP My Neighbor/My Creator bodes well for the new material ahead, too. At the start of a tour that will take them up and down the East Coast, they’ll be out on July 17 along with Matt & Kim, BreakThru Radio, and, hopefully, you!

Wye Oak Live:

July 17 – Siren Festival – Brooklyn, NY
July 20 – Johnny Brenda’s^ – Philadelphia, PA
July 22 – Rock & Roll Hotel^ – Washington, D.C.
July 25 – Whartscape – Baltimore, MD
August 17 – Daniel Street Club* – Milford, CT
August 18 – Rock & Roll Hotel* – Washington, D.C.
August 19 – Cat’s Cradle* – Carrboro, NC
August 20 – Grey Eagle* – Asheville, NC
August 21 – The Basement* – Nashville, TN
August 23 – The Frequency* – Madison, WI
August 26 – Schubas* – Chicago, IL
August 27 – Grog Shop* – Cleveland, OH
August 28 – Horseshoe Tavern* – Toronto, Ontario
August 29 – Il Motore* – Montreal, Quebec
August 31 – Iron Horse* – Northampton, MA
September 1 – Mercury Lounge* – New York, NY
September 2 – Middle East* – Cambridge, MA
September 3 – Johnny Brenda’s* – Philadelphia, PA
September 4 – Maxwell’s* – Hoboken, NJ

^ = w/ Deer Tick
* = w/ Lou Barlow

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– Britt Sondreal


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