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Some of us first discovered Allison Weiss as an internet sensation that serenaded Youtube with acoustic covers of her favorite indie and punk rock songs. Since Weiss’ first EP release in 2007, she has moved to Brooklyn, toured with Lou Reed, and is hitting many stops this summer on the Vans Warped Tour.
Weiss recently signed to No Sleep Records, an independent record label based in California which features bands like Into it.Over it., Balance and Composure, Touche Amore and The Wonder Years.
Her music has seen a steady transition from the stripped down acoustic style of her early EPs An Eight-Song Tribute to Feeling Bad & Feeling Better and The Only Girl at an All Boys Pool Party, to the electronic touches of her second album Teenage Years. Weiss’ third album, Say What You Mean continues on this trajectory, using a more sophisticated sound with all of the heart and confusion of her earlier releases.
I first found your music in 2011, when you posted a video of yourself covering “Future 86” by Bomb the Music Industry. Are you still a fan?
Oh, yeah. I mostly know the first few records. I always love everything Jeff does, he is such a good musician.
Do you have a favorite BTMI record?
It’s a tie between Album Minus Band and To Leave Or Die In Long Island.
Your new record, Say What You Mean sees a much different production style, from your earlier minimalist production style. What prompted the change in sound?
I think it’s mostly because I was just performing solo because it was easiest. On all my past records, those were songs I was already playing out for years. Say What You Mean is the first time I actually wrote songs for a record, so most of the songs for the record were never played live with a band until after the whole thing was already made. I really spent a lot of time trying to think of the best parts for the songs. It was the first time I had the opportunity to explore some musical territories. And it wasn’t just whatever we came up with on the spot, it was figuring out what parts work best for each song in general.
How important is it to you for your music to be relatable?
I would say it’s pretty important. I personally relate most to songs that are about relationships and love and all that sort of stuff. I sort of use my songs to figure out my own problems, and the hope is that by finding a new way to talk about an old feeling, then maybe somebody else can get help or satisfaction by listening to my music.
I saw that you reblogged Grimes’ feminist statement earlier this week. Do you feel like this is an important time for women’s rights? How would you describe your experience in the music industry as a woman? Do you feel like you’ve gotten different treatment, as Grimes’ statement implied?
I reblogged Grimes post because everything she said is absolutely true. I feel like my experience as a woman in the music industry is not unique, because if you’re a woman in the music industry, you’re going to experience all that stuff. It sucks that that’s just the norm, and the way it is. We’re supposed to just accept it, and I don’t think we should just accept it anymore.
I consider myself to be the sort of band leader, who, I know what I want out of the musicians that I play with. My mom said I was demanding, and then that spiraled off into a discussion about how when you call a girl demanding, people automatically assume that she’s a bitch. But you’re supposed to be demanding as a guy. It’s stupid that there are these stereotypes either way. If you’re a girl, you’re not supposed to be as demanding about the type of music you want, or you can only be successful if you have a pretty face. Pretty much everything Grimes wrote down, she can say it a lot better than I can right now.
In Paste’s review of your new record, they compared you to Tegan and Sara. How do you feel about the comparisons?
I love it, Tegan and Sara are one of my favorite bands. I know a lot of people have been saying it lately, which is cool. But it’s almost weird because their new record sounds nothing like my new record, so it’s just pretty obvious that growing up I listened to a lot of Tegan and Sara records.
I’ve definitely been wondering lately if a lot of the comparisons are because I’m a gay lady with brown hair. Back when I had long hair, I got compared to Lisa Loeb and Ingrid Michaelson. So I think a lot of people confuse music styles with the way people look, which is unfortunate.
But if people want to compare me to Tegan and Sara, then it’s cool. I like it.
Well, to put those comparisons aside, what were some of your inspirations on this record?
Oh man, I was listening to a lot of Tegan and Sara’s So Jealous, Paramore, Rilo Kiley, a lot of Weezer. Even bands like TV on the Radio, to Robyn.
With the altered sound on this record, do you feel like there is still a different sound that you would like to experiment with?
I think on the next record, I definitely want to add a lot more electronics. Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of St. Lucia and Stars. I like what they’re doing and I’ve always loved Postal Service and synth-y bands. I think this record is definitely more so than the last one. I want to find a way to combine the two. Mix an 80s rock sound with this new, hip synthesizer, like EDM, I don’t even know what that means.
In an interview with Punknews.org, you call yourself a pizza connoisseur. What is your favorite style/region of pizza?
I don’t know that much about Chicago pizza. I had deep dish once, it was delicious. I’m pretty partial to the pizza I get in Brooklyn. Whenever we’re out on the road, I feel like people always want to take us out to their pizza place and they’ll say ‘It’s just as good as New York pizza’, but it never is as good as New York pizza.
What would be your dream tour?
Probably getting to open for a band that I love, like Rilo Kiley, Tegan and Sara or Robyn. I don’t even know if I fit on any of those tours. Rilo Kiley, are they ever going to tour again? Who knows?
Honestly, my dream tour would be playing for a ton of people who are paying attention every night. Tegan and Sara, Rilo Kiley, and then I get to open and try to get people to like me.