Q&A: Aussie Indie Rockers San Cisco

Drummer Scarlett Stevens dishes on their debut album, their cover of Daft Punk's "Get Lucky," songwriting, and playing in Boston.

By Olga Khvan | Arts & Entertainment |
san cisco

PHOTO VIA FACEBOOK

Listen to the lyrics of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” and N.E.R.D.’s “Hypnotize U.” Australian indie rockers San Cisco couldn’t get over how dirty they are, which is why they thought it’d be fun to merge the two for their own cover of Daft Punk’s summer hit. The result was a catchy, stripped down version, complete with congos from cool chick drummer Scarlett Stevens and crooning from 19-year-old lead vocalist Jordi Davieson.

But these guys don’t just do covers. Their breakout hit single “Awkward” is just as catchy. Next week, Jordi, Scarlett, guitarist Josh Biondillo, and bassist Nick Gardner will kick off their U.S. tour at Brighton Music Hall, miles away from their hometown in Fremantle, Australia. Earlier this week, Scarlett talked with us about songwriting, San Cisco’s self-titled debut album, and playing in Boston.

Tell me about the new album coming out [in the U.S.]—your first full-length.

It’s already out in Australia. It was recorded over two different sessions in Melbourne in 2012. I guess it’s really eclectic. It’s not one singular sound or genre that we focused on. It’s really a bunch of different sounds and styles and different inspirations and influences. There’s a bit of rock on there and a bit of electronic.

When did you know that this was going to be a serious, full-time thing? Did you have any other plans?

I studied at university up until last year. I’ve always had studying as another priority. When we decided to tour nonstop, I deferred and the band is now my number one thing. But we all have other interests. I studied arts management. I’ve tried to keep [the band and school] separate. I think if I tried to get involved in the management, I would have a heart attack.

What about the other guys? What are their interests?

Josh does a lot of the graphic design for the band. He’s gotten into collecting vintage instruments. He’s a collector. And Jordi likes to go into the desert—in the Australian outback. At the moment he’s up north, sort of where the desert meets ocean, so he’s been out of range. He doesn’t even know that the rest of the band is in New York at the moment.

What’s it like being the only girl in the band and touring with three guys?

It actually gets better with every tour. I don’t know if that’s because the guys have matured a bit more or what. We try not to walk all over each other. I think when the band first started I just wanted to be one of the boys and now when I’ve had enough of them, I know how to deal with it and take myself for a walk.

What music are you listening to right now?

I’ve been listening to the new Phoenix album, which I really like. The new Yeah Yeah Yeahs—Mosquito, it’s pretty cool. I watched a really cool documentary on Nile Rodgers, so I’ve been into his stuff with Chic. Oh, and I’ve been listening to Haim.

Back to your own music—is songwriting a group effort?

Jordi writes most of the lyrics and then Josh comes up with the melodies. Sometimes it’s the other way around or Jordi does both or Josh does both. Then they’ll bring it to the band and it takes off and becomes fully arranged. We have done songs a bit more collaboratively, but generally the lyrics and music come from Josh and Jordi.

So the Daft Punk cover. Where did that come from? Were you guys just goofing around?

It was actually a really painful journey. We had to come up with a cover for this Australian radio segment called “Like a Version” and we kind of fought over what song we should do and then eventually just settled on “Get Lucky.” That was the song we were all fairly mutual about. It was weird—when we were practicing it, we didn’t feel that great about it, but then when I look back on the video and the recording, I’m really pleased with it.

Will you record an official version?

I think when something ends up being a really good thing, it’s good to leave it and then just let it progress naturally. And we want to be known for our originals as well, so we wouldn’t spend that time and money on a song we didn’t write.

Have you guys been to Boston before?

Yeah, we played in Allston—the Great Scott! What a fantastic show. People were getting into it and it was really fun. And we had some good barbecue food before. We didn’t get to explore, though. We got as far as the Whole Foods near the hotel. There was no time.

What are your plans for the rest of the year?

The tour goes for about five weeks. Hopefully we’ll get back into writing and recording at the beginning of next year and we’ll be working on the next album. When we get back, we have a few more shows in Australia and then maybe a tour in England in October. The touring schedule is pretty hectic, but when we get back we’re going to try and get back to writing. It’s been ages.

San Cisco will play at Brighton Music Hall on Monday, July 15. Tickets are available for $12 at ticketmaster.com.

Correction:
July 12, 11 a.m.: The band's cover of Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" was for the radio segment "Like a Version," not "Live Version." We regret the error.

Source URL: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/arts-entertainment/blog/2013/07/10/interview-australian-indie-band-san-cisco/