Jessica and Jennifer Clavin first made names for themselves in the indie music scene as members of Mika Miko, a band in many ways archetypal of the DIY youth punk scene. Rather than sink under the weight of caricature, though, Mika Miko continued to push the envelope and release remarkable albums. However, in 2009 the band disbanded so members could pursue other career options. Considering the Clavin sisters launched Mika Miko with their fellow bandmates while still in high school, the decision to break up was certainly upsetting but wholly understandable.
Thankfully, Jessie and Jennifer Clavin returned to writing music together after a brief pause, but this time under the name Bleached. Fully entrenched in the SoCal scene, their music is beginning to spread around the country, thanks in part to the well-received Carter 7inch release and their wildly enjoyable and raucous live show. Look for the Clavin sisters this fall as they tour to and from the CMJ festival, but in the meantime, enjoy the interview Glide Magazine’s Peter Zimmerman held with Jessie and Jennifer. And be sure to check out the newly released music video for lead single “Think of You.” Not only is it beautifully shot and visually intoxicating, but Jessica buys a used vinyl copy of Stevie Nicks’ classic solo album Wild Heart to give to a friend. Does it get any better? Judge for yourself, but be sure to give these girls a listen, because they’re the real deal. It’s nice to have them back making music again.
Oh, and while you’re at it, enter to win a Bleached prize pack, exclusively through Glide Magazine. Who ever said we didn’t have swag?!
Before Bleached, you two were part of Mika Miko, a band widely appreciated and recognized as a major force in the indie/punk community. You even released at points through Kill Rock Stars and Sub Pop Records, which is no easy feat. What compelled the band to break up?
Jessie – It seemed as if Mika Miko wasn’t first priority for everyone at the time. We had to dedicate so much of our time to Mika Miko and if we were not all there emotionally then how far can we go? It was either we all stay in this together and just go for it or split. I really wanted to tour and see how far I could get musically.
Jennifer – We started the band when we were all still in high school just for fun. We didn’t expect people to actually be so into us, so that compelled us to keep going. After 6 or more years of it, everyone was ready to move on and do new things.
Was the concept behind Bleached as a band formed when you were still in Mika Miko? If not, how soon after the band disbanded did you decide to go at it– just the two of you?
Jessie – Bleached was started during Mika Miko, but during that time Jen and I were just trying to figure out sounds. I don’t think we were taking it too serious until Mika Miko actually broke up.
Jennifer – We knew Mika Miko was gonna break up but we wanted to keep playing music together so we started Bleached. At first it wasn’t too serious though because I was going to school and I think Jess was dabbling in another band too.
Jennifer– you spent the better part of 2010 touring with Cold Cave. What caused you to join that band after Mika Miko?
Jennifer – At first I was hesitant to join because I was excited about being in school for fashion and not doing a serious band anymore. But in early 2010, Cold Cave came to LA and asked me to play some shows with them to see what it was like. I ended up having so much fun and really loving the songs that I decided to drop out of school and tour with them. It was a different experience and something I am really happy I got to be apart of. I learned a lot from those guys and how other bands work.
Jessie– did you write songs with Bleached in mind when Jennifer was with Cold Cave? How did you two trade song ideas back and forth during that year?
Jessie – When Jen left for Cold Cave I kind of left it up to her to write a song and I would then add a guitar solo and bass part. It was really hard. I couldn’t really work long distance. Besides the fact that I check my e-mail once a week, I really missed Jen’s company and the energy we have when were together writing.
You’ve now released two 7" EPs– Carter and Francis, one on Art Fag Recordings and the other through Ooga Booga, an art-inspired boutique in LA. How did those label arrangements come about?
Jennifer – We love Ooga Booga and Wendy has always supported us. So I thought it would be cool to just get our sound out there and not be attached to a label yet. But then for the 2nd 7inch we chose Art Fag because we love Mario and it just seemed right. He puts out amazing bands!
There’s now four songs officially released under Bleached’s name: "Think of You" and "You Take Time" from Carter and "No Friend of Mine" and "Dazed" from Francis. Were there other songs you contemplated for these EPs? How did you decide on the tracklisting for each?
Jessie – There were other songs, but these songs were ones we had down really well. We were confident about these and knew they where what we wanted to show.
Jennifer – For the Francis 7inch we were sure we wanted to record those two songs because they were the only ones we had fully together. But then for the Carter 7inch we knew we wanted to do “You Take Time,” but with “Think of You” we weren’t sure. We were contemplating between two songs. Glad we picked “Think Of You,” though, because it ended up being the A-side.
Are you working on a full-length record? If so, can you describe what other songs you’re working on for that project? Who is producing and playing with you on the album? When can we expect it?
Jennifer – Actually we are still planning on doing one more 7inch before the full length. We have like 6 songs and we can’t decide which two to record for it. But Rob, who recorded the Carter 7inch, is going to do this new one too. We love recording with him and the ideas he has and the way he makes us sound. The only thing for the new 7inch we are fully sure of is the art.
How do you both approach songwriting? What’s your collaboration look like?
Jennifer – I usually start it by writing the base of a song on guitar and adding the vocals. Or a vocal melody I have in my head will write the guitar line for me. Then Jess will usually add the lead guitar parts, solos, bass, and harmonizing. We usually figure out the harmonizing together, like whether she should go higher or lower or just double me. But there has also been a song or two where we will switch song writing roles.
You’ve now launched (and completed) a couple of West Coast tours in support of your EPs. What’s the future look like for you, touring-wise?
Jessie – We’re going to tour out to CMJ and back. I am pretty excited about that. I am already looking forward to the next tour after that. Not planned yet, but we will.
Jennifer – Yeah I am super excited to be touring with Bleached through the US out to NY and back. And for all the future touring as well.
What has the response been from your audience members?
Jennifer – People seem to really be having fun at our shows, so that’s awesome. I love when people dance at shows. It’s rad.
How do you not drive each other crazy?!
Jessie– We grew up together. We spent enough time as kids driving each other crazy. We went through the same issues growing up, instead of being against each other, we come together and understand one another.
If there were one song you’d want to me to put on a mixtape to send around to friends, which would it be? Why that one?
Jennifer – Right now I would say “Seek and Destroy” by Metallica. Me and Jess keep blasting that song. The guitar solos are so sweet and when he comes in and says “Alright” is such a good part and the drumming is super intense. Everything about it is so awesome and it’s super long. If you’re drunk it’s the best in the world!! (laughs)