Telepathe's Melissa Livaudais On Their Brand-New Dance Mother, Monkey Costumes
Andres Lazlo Konrath
Brooklyn-based electro-dance duo Telepathe began working on their first record way back in late 2007 with TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek. Over the course of six months, they worked around the clock pairing a haunting, vocal aesthetic with dark, distinctive synthetic sounding grooves. Nearly a year later, Dance Mother finally comes out this week. After a few initial calls that reached Melissa's voicemail--which explicitly says "Do not leave a voicemail"--we finally connected, though I think I might've woken her up.
I gather you don't like voicemails.
Oh. I really have to change that. I've had that there for a long time. Sorry. I'm really lazy about listening to them--I just see who last called and call them back.
You'll be happy to know that I didn't leave a voicemail. But anyway, how did you and Busy meet?
We used to play in another band called Wicked.
And that's how we met. The first time I met Busy was at a Wicked rehearsal--that was about five years ago. And that band ended and we started Telepathe about three years ago.
Wasn't Dance Mother supposed to come out in February?
Well, it did in the U.K. and Europe. But our American label, IAMSOUND, changed distributors, and that pushed the date back. It was available on the iTunes store even though there wasn't a hard copy of it in the U.S.
It feels like you've been working on this for a long time then--are you all feeling antsy about it at the moment?
No, we're feeling really excited about it, actually. We've had the last couple of months off from tour--we did a bunch of pre-record touring before it came out in Europe. It always felt very disjointed. So the last two months, we stripped the set down so we were able to sample and sequence it the way we always dreamed of doing it, but never had enough time. It was basically two months solid of putting it together--it was pretty laborious, but very rewarding. So now we're really excited to play it.
So that time off--sounds like you weren't sitting around and just watching cartoons.
[laughs] No. It was almost like making another record--making the live version of Telepathe's music. I'm psyched about it. It was hard work for us.
You just got back from playing a few shows with Ladytron and the Faint. Did you test out those new arrangements then?
Well, we had a little bit of trouble on the tour with that. Ladytron and the Faint have such enormous projections. But we had a total of 15 outputs--that's really not that much. But they couldn't accommodate it. So basically we couldn't do it.
Well you'll be able to test it out full on at the Annex.
You must have listened to Dance Mother a zillion times at this point. What still stands out?
I would have to say "So Fine" or "Lights Go Down" are my two favorite songs. "So Fine" is the last song we added. I love "Chrome's On It" too. I don't know. I love all of it. We worked really hard on it--we had some ideas of what we wanted to do and I feel like we accomplished them.
Sometime in the future, and I don't know if this is possible, I would like to have it remastered. We did it in the UK with this guy who is super sweet and had mastered a 7" we put out over there--he was totally affordable, but I wish we had mastered it with someone who did hip-hop. There's so much bass and so much sub and I think a little bit of it slightly disappeared.
You all have been working together for a while now--has the way you write together changed?
We started using music making software and we built a home studio--which is basically some monitors and got this program called Logic. I guess we got it in 2007, so we kind of started making all these songs. But there's a learning curve, ya know? It took us about six months to fully understand the program and mixing sounds well. Once we go that, it definitely changed. Now we work so well as far as getting ideas out and drafts of songs. We get together and we'll start with a beat--then play a simple synth melody over it or guitar melody. We've become way more efficient at it and have way more fun with it.
Do you have anything special in store for the Annex show? Monkey costumes or anything?
Oh, monkey costumes. No.
You should think about it.
Well we do have something special, just not monkey costumes. Busy is a choreographer and she has been working with three other choreographers-- and they have made dance moves; synchronized dance moves to Telepathe songs. So Telepathe is going to have three amazing lady dancers killing it on stage with us, while Busy and I stand behind our electronics. We wish that we could do that to our music but it's not possible. The next step to it--and I don't know how well its going to work--but we're going to post the YouTube videos of the dancers and each song will have like five dance sequences for people to learn and show up where we play and have three dancers who know the moves dance up on stage.
It's very flashmobby.
It's very flashmobby.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I hope it works out.
Telepathe plays The Annex tonight. It's a measly ten bucks.