Stripmall Architecture on Its NSFW Make-Out Video, Having Dead Milkmen for Fans, and Its Show This Saturday
Maybe you remember that hugely NSFW music video we posted last month, in which two beautiful women drink too much wine and end up stripping each other half-naked and going at it on a sofa? Yeah, that video was made by Stripmall Architecture, a maverick S.F. band whose sound has lately evolved from moody indie rock into a darker, danceable synth-pop. The husband-and-wife duo is headlining an All Shook Down-presented local music showcase this Saturday (June 23) at the Independent, along with Oakland's Warm Soda and former Mumlers leader Will Sprott. Ahead of that show, we spoke with Stripmall singer Rebecca Coseboom about why she thinks the bare boobies of the "Dusk Drinks" video weren't so racy, the importance of having good visuals in a band, and the time the singer of the Dead Milkmen told a sold-out crowd at Slim's how great Stripmall Architecture is.
You and Ryan had played together with a third member in the band Balou, and went off on your own for Stripmall Architecture What was there a specific plan for what this band would be? A musical direction?
Yes and no. We always know what we're working on, project-by-project. But we can't tell you that that one project is how we're always going to sound. Right now we're working on an album, it's really inspired by late-'70s, early-'80s electronic music. Really analog, buzzy, kind of sleazy synthesizer music -- almost as if John Foxx came in and produced the record.
Stripmall isn't on a label. Is the band's independence a deliberate strategy or just the current circumstance?
Yes and no. We did put out a 7-inch with Tricycle Records, and the only reason we were comfortable doing that is because they're pretty darn hands-off. But I would say yes otherwise, because we've had nothing but really bad experiences being on labels. If you put something out and you don't do an awesome job promoting it, the only person you can be mad at is yourself. But when someone else is failing you, you just feel so resentful, and you feel like there's nothing you can do about it.
The band has a pretty far-reaching reputation, though. I was surprised to hear Rodney Anonymous from the Dead Milkmen talk about how great Stripmall is onstage.
That was so funny. My phone exploded that night. Everyone was like, ' do you know the Dead Milkmen?' I was like, 'Well, he follows us on Twitter,' but I thought it was someone else with the same name.
Let's talk about the idea behind the NSFW video for "Dusk Drinks." What inspired that? Why did you decide to go so racy?
It came directly from the lyrics. The song is very much about how, at the end of the day when you come home and you sit down and you just have a glass of wine, it's like a time vampire. It just sucks your evening away, because you know you just lose any motivation you had to get anything done. And if you're anything like me, that's the only time you have to get things done. And so -- because if you have a day job and stuff, and you're a musician, you have the night period -- that's all you get.
So in the song I kind of anthropomorphize the wine, and she becomes this really alluring woman that you just really wanna make out with -- it's hard to resist her. So I thought, 'Well, what if the video was just literally that -- just this woman who you love so much and you just want to make out with her, and she just sucks your time away? So at the end of the video, the women are just lying on the ground, because there went all their motivation. My husband pretty much took it from there. I told him the story, and he was like, 'I got this.' And the ladies in the video are girlfriends of mine, and they were just fantastic in it. And they really, really like each other, which is great.
What kind of response have you gotten on that?
My favorite was when I was called not a feminist. Especially considering one of the women in the video is called Unwoman, you know, from Margaret Atwood? And I just recently covered over a disastrous, messed-up feminist tattoo. So I was like, 'Wow, we're not feminist'? That was my favorite. But we've received mostly people saying 'This is so incredibly racy,' and I just didn't think it was all that racy. And I feel like I'm kinda prudish. I was shocked. I didn't think people were going to be that freaked out by boobies.
It's almost less the boobies themselves, and more that the general mood of the video is so seductive -- the lighting, and the imagery of the wine and everything.
Which is great, because the sleaziness of it -- and it does have a little bit of sleaze to it, because there's film grain in it and stuff -- I feel like that goes with the buzziness and the sleaziness of the analog synths that we are now so obsessed with. And that song is closest to what our new music sounds like. I'm excited that it's not just the video that the people are reacting to -- they're also saying the song is fantastic.
I read that early on you did a set with typewriters and glassware. Tell me how your live set has evolved.
This particular show, it's going to be ridiculous, like Howard Jones-type stacks of keyboards. And I might be playing a little something something here and there, but for the most part, because there's only two of us onstage, I'm going to be doing my darnedest to entertain. Something I'm going to be bringing to the set this time is a little bit of extra lighting. I know that the Indy has a beautiful rig, but I want to add a little something-something.
What inspired the name Stripmall Architecture?
It was something that everybody hates, and nobody ever really thinks about.
So you named your band after something that nobody likes?
Yeah. And I love how nowadays they're looking more and more like they've just been airlifted in. And they're the same everywhere.
You also do an amazing job with the visuals in your releases, website, videos. I'm curious about the inspiration for that.
Our designer is essentially a member of the band at this point. His name is the Mystery Parade, or Max Medina, and he pretty much does everything. We really think about it pretty darn hard. I realized a little bit ago that with a band, it's more than just the songs that you are quote-unquote selling. It's the mood. It's an atmosphere, and so the visuals are totally a part of that -- the videos, the graphic design. The live show. It's all part of the mood that you're giving people. It's less 'what do you sound like?' and it's more 'what do you feel like?' And I want people to know that our music feels a little bit ominous, a little bit sexy, a little bit creepy, and definitely something that you can enjoy and bob your head to.
Do you support yourselves through music, or do you have day jobs?
Currently I have been laid off from a major financial institution. I am being paid for 11 months to do nothing but this. My husband works in wine. So we always have fantastic wine at our house and at our band practices. And actually a lot of the venues in S.F., we call ahead and we ask if we can bring wine in, and they'll let us. And you know those girls in that video were drinking some fine shit. We treated them nice.
Stripmall Architecture performs this Saturday, June 23, at the Independent with Warm Soda and Will Sprott. 8:30 p.m., $10/$12; www.theindependentsf.com.