Interview: Uh Huh Her

Uh Huh Her - Photo courtesy of Uh Huh Her

Uh Huh Her - Photo courtesy of Uh Huh Her

Uh Huh Her is one of those bands people just can’t talk about without mentioning past projects. Most notably, bassist Leisha Hailey is known for her role as Alice Pieszecki on the television series, The L Word, and slightly lesser-known for her time spent in the bands The Murmurs and Gush. Meanwhile, her bandmate and partner, lead singer, guitarist, and keyboardist Camila Grey is known for once being a member of Mellowdrone, touring with artists such as Dr. Dre, Busta Rhymes, and Kelly Osbourne, and for her role as a member in American Idol-winner Adam Lambert’s live band.

Yet in the time since the band’s formation, some five years ago, the duo has found it’s own niche, developing a fan base that extends beyond past reputations.

As if any evidence of the band’s ability to stand on its own was needed, last night, Uh Huh Her played its first Berlin show to a sold out crowd at Magnet Club.

While the group is officially a two piece, on tour, they bring along a drummer (Josh) and guitarist (Brad). However, the latter is tied up elsewhere, so for the European tour, Uh Huh Her has been a three-piece, the execution of which took some time for the members to figure out.

“[Grey’s] voice is really, sort of soft and ethereal, which comes across great on a record, but I think live sometimes she can get drowned out by all the wall of sound,” Hailey said, explaining how things will be played different on this tour. “So in a way I’m a little extra excited about doing it this way, just to see.”

Grey agreed, noting that losing a member has caused them to compensate in other areas, such as relying upon more samplers.

“I mean, it’ll still be big, and synth-y and electronic, [but] it’ll be a slightly less kind of raucous version of the record,” she said, citing what fans can expect at the shows.

One advantage to the stripped-down sound on tour is that it segues perfectly into what Uh Huh Her has planned next, which is a new EP. The specifics aren’t yet available, but according to Hailey, the songs – of which there will likely be five – will be a lot more bare and minimalistic than past releases.

This EP comes on the tail end of the release of last year’s “Nocturnes,” the group’s second full-length. Just six months later, the October 2011 release is still fresh for the fans, but doesn’t quite feel that way for the band.

“It’s actually really old for us,” Grey said. “I feel like we’ve lived with it for probably two years now.”

During the actual writing and recording process, Grey shared that she got caught in what she referred to as a “70s trap,” which consisted of listening to older artists like Siouxsie Sioux, Pink Floyd, The Fall, and Led Zeppelin.

“It was super permeating everything in me, and I felt like the record kind of took on a bit of a more rock’n’roll sound than all of our previous efforts, which are more electronic,” she elaborated. “I just stopped listening to pop music altogether and was really sick of it, and that’s kind of how the ‘Nocturnes,’ like, kind of rock’n’roll sound came to be.”

Yet because the two allowed themselves to defy previously-established boundaries, both in the artistic and logistic senses, this shift in style isn’t at all viewed as a negative aspect.

“I think it really made us super creative in a way that we just, there were no stakes involved, which is what we wanted to do,” Grey said. “It puts the power in your hands.”

Although Uh Huh Her’s first album, 2008’s “Common Reaction,” was released on a label, this time around, the duo opted to do everything on its own. Yet while it was ultimately a gratifying task, both Grey and Hailey admitted that the DIY route was not without its challenges.

“I was getting really frustrated in the last year because I couldn’t believe it still wasn’t out,” Hailey said.
“[But I think we realized how much work goes into putting a record out. So we had to become like every little department of the record label.”

This involved many enjoyable aspects, such as the music writing, recording, and producing. However, when the business side of things came into play, it wasn’t as easy or as much fun for the two to deal with. Not only that, but because Hailey and Grey had to be more responsible and take more initiative, it put a delay on the release of the music.

“I think a lot of it was trying to figure out what our distribution channels were going to be,” Grey shared. “It was all, like, really kind of business-y, marketing crap that was preventing us from releasing something.”

Hailey agreed, sharing that doing things on their own taught them just how accountable they had to be, both to the band and to one another.

“It’s being really sort of responsible with the money you make as a band and what you do with it and how you sort of invest all of that back into the project,” Hailey said. “We’d love to pay each other out after a tour or something, but really…any profit you make, if you make any at all, has to go right back into, you know, making the next round of merch or like [putting] some aside for the pressing of the next [release].”

The most obvious benefit now, the two say, is that, having gone through the ups and downs of the self-release method, they now have the ability to record and release an album within a couple weeks, as opposed to a couple years.

“That’s the beauty of it, figuring all that out,” Grey said.

She added that, if they wanted to, the two now have a system in place which would allow them to sign and release music from other bands, something which she said was part of the ultimate goal, at least for her.

“I like producing and stuff like that on the side,” Grey said, noting that she’s currently working on remixing music for a friend. “I like solo artists, to take a solo artist and take stripped-down versions of songs and build them into these kind of, you know, electronic songs or pop songs. I think it’s a fun challenge.”

But the most rewarding part of it for both of them?

“Doing what you love with people you love and just being able to create and make a living doing that,” Grey said. “To me, that’s like, I’m very lucky to be able to do that. That’s not lost on me.”

As she said this, Hailey nodded and smiled, affirming Grey’s words.

“That’s what it’s all about,” she agreed.

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