With the recent release of their sophomore album and their upcoming tour, 2018 is bound to be a highly productive year for the Brooklyn-based Gingerlys. Described as “drenched in late autumn sunshine, nostalgic yet optimistic” by NPR, Gingerlys’ new self-titled record reflects on the blossoming and wilting of relationships. The album, which was co-released by Babe City Records and Topshelf Records and produced by Connor Hanwick of The Drums, shows a new, more emotional side to the band that was absent on their 2014 EP. Personal and harmonious, the album has received praise from the likes of The FADER & KEXP and has garnered hundreds of thousands of streams on Spotify.
We had the chance to sit down with Gingerlys' guitarist and songwriter, Matthew Richards, to talk about the band, the album, and their tour.
hope: Your self titled album came out in November. How was writing and recording this record different from the Jump Rope EP?
Matthew: It was really interesting. With the Jump Rope EP we were working off demos that we were doing in my home in Valley Stream, Long Island. We did Jump Rope with Oliver Ignatius at this place called Mama Coco’s Funky Kitchen in Bushwick. We went in to record that EP and we really weren’t too sure of the sound we wanted to have. So going into that we were a little—I wouldn’t say we were completely confused—but we were a bit more clueless than we were on this new record. We felt like the songs on Jump Rope were strong enough on their own that we could just get them down, record them & get them out. Thankfully we did because the Jump Rope EP got us to the point where Ed Mazzucco on Shelf Life heard us. We didn’t think any label would be interested in us at that time but he said immediately “We’d love to put this out.”
I think recording the LP was definitely different because we really knew what we wanted to go for and we had these songs. We’ve been playing these songs live for almost two years. Going in to record the whole album we were a lot more conscious of the sound we wanted to put forth. And I think we really did that.
hope: Jackie Mendoza, who sings on the new record, wasn’t on Jump Rope, right?
Matthew: No, we had our original singer, Maria Garnica, and she helped us out a lot and things just didn’t end up working out. We ended up finding Jackie after our friend said “Hey, we have this other friend over here who’s coming back from college and she’s looking to start a band.” We just met up with her and we were already somewhat midway into recording the album. Jackie just came in and hit everything on point and we said “I don’t think we can find a better vocalist than her.” It really just ended up working out perfectly.
hope: The whole record seems like an intimate reflection on relationships and moving on. As the songwriter, is there a song or lyric that you see as the most introspective or personal?
Matthew: It’d probably be “Let Down” because it’s a nice dichotomy between Jackie and Colin with the vocals. The way they interplay and bounce off each other in that call and response way. It’s the idea of telling of a relationship building and then falling apart. It brings more of a defined emotional side to the band which we didn’t have before in Jump Rope.
I think that song took me around two or three years to really get into lyrics and music and everything. When we had it I think it showed this heavy, emotional side to the band that really wasn’t prevalent before.
hope: Is having that heavy, emotional side of the band out there on the record scary or empowering?
Matthew: In a way it’s always scary because you never know how people are going to respond to your music and if somebody is gonna say “Oh well I don’t really understand what you’re trying to say here ” but all the responses have been really understanding. Especially the NPR article that they wrote about “Let Down.” They really understood a lot of that dichotomy I was trying to get through towards the lyrics and the music.
hope: What was it like to sign with Babe City Records and Topshelf Records? How did those relationships start?
Matthew: We were playing some shows in DC and we were just bumming around for a while. One of the guys from Babe City Records came to see us and said “Wow—I’m blown away by your band. If you ever want to put something out with Babe City I would absolutely love to do that.”
We had this really defined idea that we wanted to put this album out on two different labels. If we could—not necessarily corner different markets—but get the independent side of everybody listening to our music. People have been so receptive in the scene that we’re in, but Topshelf has this whole other way of working. Everything just came together by emailing a bunch of different labels, knowing that Babe City was absolutely up to put out our album. Then we just contacted Topshelf and said “Hey would you guys be up to split this 50/50 and do a record?”
I think Babe City did this with Bueno, and they did a co-release with Exploding in Sound Records. We asked if we could do something like that and they said they’d absolutely be down for that. It came together very beautifully.
hope: You've recently been featured on a number of big Spotify Playlists [Undercurrents, Badass Women, Fresh Finds]. How big of an impact do you think playlists inclusions have for smaller indie bands?
Matthew: I would love to think the majority of people are listening to vinyl and buying our vinyl. I mean—we’re already sold out of all the colored vinyl which is really nice, but I think most people are so quick to throw on Spotify nowadays. That’s really the greatest way; it’s just so easy and quick to throw on a playlist, see what’s new, what’s going on. We’ve gotten so many messages from people saying “I heard you on this playlist & I would never have heard your band if I didn’t open up Spotify.” That got us to a really amazing place. There’s a lot more in the works that I can’t really talk about—it’s still being worked out—but we’ve got a lot of reception from different outlets just because of the Spotify playlists.
hope: On the topic of music discovery—In the past you’ve mentioned being inspired by bands from the 80s & early 90s. Who would you say are your greatest musical influences?
Matthew: It varies between everybody in the band. Jackie [vocals/keys] likes a lot of electronic music. Kevin [bass] likes a lot of electronic music & Japanese music like Towa Tei, Mondo Grosso and things like that. Colin [guitar/vocals] is the biggest Flying Nun fan imaginable—The Chills, The Clean—everything like that. Brian [drums] really likes Stereolab, My Bloody Valentine & Radio Dept. For me, I’m a big Teen-Beat Records fan. I’m a big Unrest fan. True Love Always, The Courtneys; I love bands like Melted Toys or Everything But the Girl. Prefab Sprout is probably one of my favorite bands of all time.
hope: Sounds like you guys have some eclectic tastes. How do you pull those together to form your dream pop sound?
Matthew: Being the main songwriter, I bring songs to everybody and I show them just the bare skeletons of the songs. Everybody says “Oh maybe this could work” or “this could go like this.” We all come together and say “what would fit best for this song? We all really like this song right now—what’s the best aesthetic? We’re going to make it slightly more dreamy or slightly more raw.”
In a lot of different ways I think we all come together and sit down with our influences. Even though our influences are varied, we all still love the same music. We sit down and focus on which sound would work best for which song. We take our time; every little thing has to be exact and perfect to fit the form of a song. In a way, the song takes over us and we just have to pay attention to what the song is telling us instead of us trying to force something on the song.
hope: The video for “Turtledoves” came out last month. Can you tell us about the experience shooting the video & working with Luke Carr?
Matthew: He was so open to listening to the ideas we really wanted. We were really strained for time when it came to shooting that music video. We were wondering what exactly we were going to do and we had this little idea to make this disjointed little story about people trying to find themselves; a song about this blossoming friendship and everybody we’ve gotten to know.
We decided to go from place to place and venue to venue just to see where we could get the best shots, find the best locations and really bring the idea of what we were trying to get across in the song. Just like in the opening of “Turtledoves,” the music video is just those waves rolling back and forth over and over. We were trying to convey more of an emotional relevance through the music video than anything.
hope: The album cover by Eliza Walton is so cool. Did you know her beforehand?
Matthew: She’s actually Kevin’s friend. He worked with her and told her our influences and different things that we were trying to convey on the cover.
We really wanted something that would stick out; something you would find at a record store, pick up and just say “Wow this a great cover. I don’t even care about the music inside, I just want to grab this and take this home with me.” That was a really amazing thing to come through. And to be presented that cover at the end? We were really blown away and proud of that cover.
hope: Can you name a song you wish you had written?
Matthew: Oh man that’s hard… maybe Unrest’s “Makeout Club” from their album Perfect Teeth in 1993. There’s just something about the way he’s just plucking and strumming that guitar against the bass and against the drums and everything. It feels like one of the most perfect pop songs I’ve ever heard. It’s definitely something I would love to have written in my life.
hope: Do you have a favorite memory from recording and releasing this record?
Matthew: Working with Connor Hanwick from The Drums was the most essential and amazing experience. When we started working with Connor he brought us into this whole atmosphere where it wasn’t about “you’re gonna play this & you’re gonna play this” like “you’re gonna try to play this on keys and you’re gonna play this guitar part on a 12 string guitar. You’re going to try and do all these different things.” He really helped us experiment by keeping things condensed into a really tight atmosphere where we were able to make this record more minimalistic than maximalist in a way.
He’s amazing, man. All those Drums records are incredible. Everything he’s on is absolutely incredible. When I heard that Drums album Portamento I was really blown away. We told him we wanted to get some of those textures & he said “If you want to do that, we’re really going to have to break things down.” I would try to play a full chord on my guitar & he’d say “Take that chord and break it down into the most essential notes you can find.” I’m like, “What do you mean?” & he says, “Ok. Well those first three chords that you’re playing—break it down to those first three notes.”
I realized how to be more of a minimalist guitarist through him and he even taught me more about my own musical skills than I ever could have even taught myself. I’m a real hardass. I don’t listen to a lot of people. For me to drop myself and listen to him—for everybody to do that—that was probably the most amazing experience. That’s probably why the record sounds as good as it does. Connor was literally the sixth Gingerly throughout the entire making of the album.
hope: Who is someone you would like to collaborate with in the future?
Matthew: We would really like to collaborate with Matthew Molnar. He did the Kissing is a Crime LPs and he also did the Sunflower Bean LP. We really liked his work with Sunflower Bean. We’re hoping to work with him in the future.
hope: You’re playing a show on February 1st at Speaking Volumes which is this cool record shop in Burlington. Is this your first time visiting Vermont?
Matthew: Yes! We’ve never been to Vermont before. We’re really, really excited to go all the way out there finally. We were trying to book a bigger tour and see what else is out there but it’s a struggle trying to book a tour. Things came together really nicely for this set of dates. I’m really excited it’s in a record store that we actually get to play in Vermont and show our music to, hopefully, some people who have never really heard it before. That’s really the best thing about touring.
hope: What’s next for Gingerlys?
Matthew: Right now we’re gonna focus on a few new songs. We’re going to start demoing different tracks for a few new songs we have in the beginning stages. We’re trying to put something out sooner rather than later. We’d like to have an new record out hopefully this year or maybe even next year.
Gingerlys play Burlington, VT, on Thursday, February 1st with Anna Altman, Gestalt & Adam Wolf at Speaking Volumes. Entry to the event is $5-10 // RSVP to the event here.
- hope all is well