1.For music fans who may not yet know much about you, could you
give us some background information on your musical pasts / how you
Sharon: We met while interning at a record label in NYC. While
most people seem to bond over things they both like, I think it was
a very long shared list of dislikes that kept our initial conversations
Toppy: Very true. Most people talk about what they love, especially
concerning music. I recall talking to Sharon about what I hated about
music and the million bands I had seen or played in
things I wished
existed that didnt, what I thought was missing. She seemed to
understand and unlike most everyone else, she didnt tell me I
was crazy or try to sell me on what music I should listen to in order
to fill the void. When she mentioned that she could sing, it occurred
to me that perhaps we could fill the void ourselves instead of hoping
someone else would.
2.Are you self-taught as musicians, and when recording, do you prefer
analogue or digital?
Toppy: I taught myself initially and later because of my nature
I became interested in more technical things. I know a great deal about
music theory, however the most important thing that I have learned is
to generally avoid anyone who enjoys talking too much about music theory
and technical proficiency in regards to songwriting. They are always
the worst songwriters and often very angry people. Technical knowledge
and skill are not prerequisites to good songwriting. As far as recording
goes, I would love for The Ropes to do something analogue. However,
under our current circumstances at least 90% of our recording is done
in my apartment and it must be digital by necessity.
Sharon: I am completely self-taught. That bit of naivete I think
is an important element for the type of music we make because conceptually
what we talk about is a combination of something very visceral, but
also very contemplative and thought out at the same time. We both have
strengths and weaknesses that add a good balance to what we do. That
being said, I have a very strong aesthetic sense of what I want The
Ropes to be and it has become more focused with time.
3.As youre based in New York, what are some of your favourite
things about the City?
Sharon: The anonymity, the 5,297 languages and the many trains
that go to other places. I like escapes. And I have terminal wanderlust.
Toppy: I prefer to stay inside, so I have never quite taken advantage
of the location. I try to force myself to go out on occasion or to talk
to someone, but the results are always disastrous and I realize that
there is a reason why I stay inside in the first place.
4.When I first heard Love Is A Chain Store on NME Radio, it instantly
stopped me in my tracks. What was the last song that had that effect
Toppy: Thank you for the compliment. Suzanne by Leonard
Cohen had that effect on me long ago. I could probably count on one
hand the songs that have.
Sharon: "The Boy Wonders" by Aztec Camera has always
had an effect where it made me feel like there are a lot more corners
to the world than I thought there were. I would like there to be more.
The same applies to "We Could Send Letters," although I am
generally very anti-love song. I found that I was often drawn in more
by a sound than what was being said, quite the opposite of The Ropes,
where it is our aim for words and music to be equally important.
5.For you personally, what have been some of the most important albums
from the last 50+ years, and if you had to pick a favourite Decade for
music, which one would it be?
Sharon: The most important albums for me were all of the vintage
French ye-ye albums I loved listening to as a child. I would definitely
say that the 1960s are my favorite musical decade. That doesn't just
apply to music. I have always been enthralled by the look and style
of the 1960s, from the newspaper fonts to the soap dishes.
Toppy: I dont have a favorite decade or a favorite album.
My love of music has been unrequited. I have been moved by bits and
pieces of things
a handful of songs, sounds, and lyrics
certainly never full albums, and I am most definitely not fulfilled
the more I learn about the people behind the music. Like life in general,
its always a disappointment. However, the amount that I have been
moved by such a small number of things was strangely great enough to
make me still want to make music my life.
6.Which one of your songs do you feel contains many of the hallmarks
commonly associated with The Ropes sound, and which song do you
think is the most surprising / untypical?
Sharon: Love Is a Chain Store is very close to the
aesthetic that I ideally want The Ropes to espouse. The yet to be released
tracks we are currently working on conceptually and aesthetically expand
further into the direction where we both want the band to go. As for
surprising or atypical, maybe Sleepy Rock and Roll would
fit that description. We wanted to focus that song completely on the
lyric, so a cappella accompanied by only static was the direction we
decided to go. Every time we tried using actual instruments the message
of the lyric seemed to get lost.
7.How would you say your personalities and musical ideas blend together,
and whats the story behind your name The Ropes?
Sharon: The story behind the name is very simple. It comes from
the phrase to know the ropes, as in I know the ropes.
When we started the band I ironically didnt realize how much more
I needed to learn in order to truly deserve that name, but believe me
I know them now. I think our personalities and musical ideas are one
and the same. We write about the things we think about and talk about,
so I dont know if there is really any distinction that could be
8.What inspires you outside of music?
Sharon: Eavesdropping, airports, understanding, not understanding,
concern, indifference and No Exit.
Toppy: Courage and selflessness.
9.Are your songs evocative of the time in which they were created
/ do they continue to reveal themselves to you over time i.e. lyrics
Sharon: The songs are evocative of the time in which they were
created, which is the same time as now, yesterday and tomorrow.
Toppy: Over time you begin to see what concepts you have done
justice and which have been failures. Thats when it is time to
try again and approach the idea from a different perspective.
10.On a similar note, do you have any favourite rhyming couplets
from your lyrics as well as from lyricists / songwriters who
Sharon: From us, perhaps Civil Lanterns. When
things are artificially bright I run for my life.
Toppy: It doesnt rhyme or fit the definition, but Its
a Fine Day sung by Miss Jane has a nice moment that comes to mind.
I remember how we were going to sit in this field but never quite
rain or appointments or something.
11.What does it mean to you to play your songs live, and do you have
any interesting tales from your time on the road over the years?
Sharon: It is a massive responsibility to have to embody a song
onstage, which is what playing live should be about. The best music
surpasses humanity, and your best ideas will always be better than you.
Toppy: While touring the Midwest in 2008 we kept hearing a clanking/scraping
sound underneath our van. It was getting worse as the tour went on.
We didnt have any money to take the van in or get it fixed, so
we crossed our fingers that wed at least make it through until
the end of the tour. We figured that after the tour was done wed
save up to repair the problem. We did make it to every show and we felt
very fortunate. However, after the final show of the tour, as we started
driving back to NY, the sound was getting very intense and much louder.
While on a highway in Ohio, the van flipped. For better or for worse
we survived. To this day I now notice every little sound that any car
Im inside makes, no matter how tiny. It drives me mad.
12.If you could choose a fantasy set list for a favourite artist
/ group, who would it be and what would you select as their opening
and closing songs?
Toppy: Its not something Ive fantasized about before.
Sharon: Nothing comes to my mind either. Im also still waiting
on a favorite artist, so the list will have to be put on hold until
13.Are visuals important to you artwork, photographs, promo
videos etc. and as parts of your music have a strong cinematic
quality, if you ever had the opportunity to compose music for a film
soundtrack, is this something that you would consider trying?
Sharon: Visuals are important because in todays world there
is so much visual stimulation that there is really no option but to
try and marry the music with some type of visual aesthetic. In some
ways its a shame because I think the music suffers greatly. Today
the visuals often become more of a focus than the music because its
an easy way to seduce an audience and get their attention while downplaying
the poor quality of the music. Not just with pop music, but with so-called
indie music as well. We have met scarce few like-minded visual artists
with whom we have wanted to collaborate, however we are certainly open
to exploring videos and other visual areas in more depth in the future.
As for soundtracks, absolutely. Wed definitely consider it for
the right film.
14.What has been the most valuable lesson that you have learnt from
writing and recording songs + do you feel that giving away your music
for free over the Internet, has benefited you in the long-term?
Sharon: We think of our catalogue like a library. People can check
it out and if they feel the need to own it they can buy it, or they
can donate if they want to show support. I suppose the lesson is that
music has a different value to everyone, both emotionally and fiscally.
No one who cares about art or believes what they are doing is important
is in it for the money. You do it because you have to. Cliché
yes, but true.
15.Lastly, this is a long-running question for fun, which would you
choose out of chips (french fries) or cream buns (pastries)?
A very special thanks to Sharon + Toppy, and to Brandon
@ B23 Management, for all of their time and help.
I wouldnt be caught dead in love
Cause love is a chain store
1 Jun 2010 20:30
Madame Jojo's London, England, UNITED KINGDOM
2 Jun 2010 21:00
229 London, England, UNITED KINGDOM
3 Jun 2010 22:00
Hippodrome with Chapel Club Kingston, London, England, UNITED KINGDOM
5 Jun 2010 11:30
Gallery13 Event Center (SUMMER SIDE SHOW FEST) Columbus, Georgia , US