If you’re a girl and happen to have a sister, you probably had at one point or another imagined yourselves forming a band when you grew up. These two siblings, Tanja and Angy, lived out the fantasy most of us left behind in school and formed a band. It started years ago in the cellar of their parents house without either of them having any knowledge of how to play drums or guitar.
By now, of course, their abilities to play instruments have far exceeded that first time they came together in 2003 and with two studio albums under their belt they have no plans to stop making music. They released Walrus last November, an exciting garage, lo-fi rock record. Look out for Jolly Goods shows in the upcoming months in and near Berlin.
Had to talk to them and get to know them a little better.
Could you give me a quick history of how the band formed?
Tanja:We formed in 2003 in a small town called Rimbach in Odenwald, near Frankfurt am Main. We lived there together in our family house. We practiced every day in this cellar after school for hours and hours. It was the only thing we wanted to do in this boring town. We soon recorded our first album on our own with one microphone in this cellar. A couple of years later, in 2007, we went into a studio to record another album called “her.barium”, which the Berlin label Louisville Records later released. In September 2011 we released our second album “walrus” on Staatsakt.
Did you play instruments before creating the band?
Angy: Only in school. Flute and so on.
Tanja: I didn’t play any instruments. I picked up the guitar maybe one year before we started the band. Angy started playing the drums when we started playing together. We never took lessons.
How do you think acquiring the majority of your music skills through self-learning affects your music?
Tanja: I hope it affects the music a lot because we don’t want to sound like everyone else. This is also why we chose not to take lessons. We want to have our own style. We did play cover songs but that was the music we liked and not some guitar teachers favourite riff.
You obviously must have listened to many bands. Could you say which bands influenced you most at the beginning?
Tanja: Nirvana and Hole were my first favourite bands. I then started to listen to Bikini Kill, Patti Smith, Bright Eyes, Magik Markers, Joanna Newsom and shoegaze bands. The White Stripes also influenced us. When we saw them playing live we thought “Wow, let’s be only two people. It’s totally enough and it works absolutely fine, let’s keep it stripped down.”
Have the influence changed. Have they evolved?
Tanja: We now listen to more quiet music. We are bored by rock music and showing off and being cool.
You released your second LP. How would you compare the creative process of the first one to working on the second one? Was it easier, harder?
Tanja: It was harder.
Angy: It took a long time.
Tanja: We wanted it to be harder and work on it for longer. For the first album we wrote the songs and played them, recorded them, bla bla bla and whatever and for the second album we didn’t want to do this again. We wanted to have more melodies and tell stories. We didn’t want to repeat ourselves.
Tanja: No, I’m proud of both albums. They are both really different to me but I understand what we wanted to do, what our concept was.
When you finished this album. What were your thoughts and feelings? Did you feel okay what now? Do you already have plans for the next album?
Tanja: I didn’t really have a feeling “Oh yeah now it’s finished” I just keep going. We’re working on new stuff.
What does the walrus represent?
Tanja: We like the walrus because it’s monstrous and big, most of the time considered as a not so cuddly animal. We look like two tiny girls but we actually are walruses with wrinkles.
You feel like you have wrinkles?
Tanja: No but the walrus does and I really like it because the ideal role of a woman is to be thin and have beautiful, soft skin. We hate suppression everyone gets by the dualistic gender model. The walrus lives on land and in water. I don’t know how to explain. There’s this feeling that we don’t want to be here or there. We moved from Rimbach to Berlin. We don’t really know where we like it best. Everything has good and bad sides and we can’t decide and we don’t want to decide. We’d rather live on the moon.
Your lyrics on Walrus are very dark. They portray a person who is quite depressed, fearful and deeply hurt by past experiences. How much of you is in those lyrics? Is this who you are or do you just choose to write songs at your lowest moments?
Tanja: I cannot imagine that someone who writes these lyrics is totally this person. I think we all have different shades. Sometimes we’re depressed and sometimes we’re just happy. I don’t think anyone is so one dimensional. It is for sure that I don’t know any reason why I should write a happy song. I write music to complain about something.
In one interview you wrote that you want people that hear your music to understand what you’re trying to say. What are you trying to say?
Tanja: That’s why we make music. It’s not so easy to say what we’re trying to say. It’s in the lyrics and the music, and the lyrics and music together and the feeling it creates it’s just that we don’t want people to talk about how big we are what hair colour we have because this happens quite a lot. When we released the first album it was quite shocking for me because so many articles were about how we look or that we are “crazy little rock chicks” and so on, and we were, like, “What the fuck is this?”. I was really shocked because I did not expect the media to be so sexist in 2008. Well, I was 20, back then I had a lot more delusions than I do have now.
How would you describe your music?
Tanja: I don’t want to describe music. I just hope that this is not my job, I don’t want to be a music journalist.
Why do you create music?
Angy: I don’t think there is anything that gives me a feeling like making music .
How would you describe this feeling what is it? Is it happiness?
Angy: No, it’s not happiness, it’s more like a feeling that I can let everything go.
Tanja: It makes me feel more connected with my unconsciousness. It’s some kind of calculus. I can let it out. I can’t feel like that
except when making music.
Your video for Try won an award at the KurzFilm Festival Oberhausen. How did you guys feel about that? Was it a surprise?
Tanja: Yes, it was a surprise. We were not expecting anything so we are really happy and honored. It was nice to be a part of the festival.
Was it a tough competition? With a lot of entries?
Tanja: I don’t know how many entries they got, but there were 10 nominated music videos and 3 won.
What were the prizes?
You are sisters. How is it to work together?
Angy: I think we’re more like best friends. I don’t have a feeling that she’s my sister. It’s strange. We get along very well with each other.
Tanja: We know each other very well, we have experienced a lot of bad and good things together, that’s a big advantage for us. It’s easier for us to understand each other because we know where it comes from.
What are the main differences between you two as far as your tastes in music and your approach to music go?
Angy: I don’t think there is a big difference. We listen to music together, so we hear the same stuff often.
Tanja: Sometimes I am a bit more perfectionist and can lose myself in little details, spend a lot of time on one little thing. I’m quite strict with myself. I also don’t like a lot of music. I hate a lot of music. I allow myself to not to like what I don’t like.
What are your plans for the year?
Tanja: We want to make new sounds. We want to record our third album. We just build a very nice practice room in Berlin, so we have a place to play music whenever we want to. Our plan is to record in this room without anyone else. We opened up ourselves, we let other people in our process of creating the album walrus. Now we want to shut down ourselves totally. Live in a small hole and make strange things, strange music that probably only we like and then let it out into the world. Let’s see! We’re looking forward to it.
Jolly Goods are Tanja Pippi (vocals, guitar, keyboard) and Angy L