UK / European Tour
October – November 2009
Questionnaire: Steve Bateman

“Teenagersintokyo hail from Sydney, where their mix of grunge, goth and disco has earned them a fearsome reputation, playing sell out shows with !!!, CSS, The Slits, Midnight Juggernauts and the Gossip amongst others. Last year they released their self-titled EP on Back Yard Recordings, the label responsible for finding internationally acclaimed bands Chromeo and Gossip. It was championed by Zane Lowe and the NME (who called it “peculiar and lovely”) and sold out in both Australia and the UK. Now they've relocated to London and have been holed away in the Welsh mountains with Bat For Lashes producer David Kosten to record their highly anticipated, upcoming album, to be released in early 2010. But you won’t have to wait until then to hear the first fruits of that union – the double a-side single, Isabella/Long Walk Home, is out on 5th October on ltd edition 7" vinyl and digital download. Serving as a tasty, succinct refresher to the band, Isabella takes its cues not from their supposed contemporaries, but from the storied history of offbeat punk rockers like Siouxsie And The Banshees and X-Ray Spex, producing an angular pop gem that is as insidious as it is off-kilter.” OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE

Samantha Lim (vocals), Miska Mandic (keyboards), Linda Marigliano (bass), Sophie McGinn (guitar) and Rudy Udovich (drums), are the precocious quintet from Oz collectively known as Teenagersintokyo (“a random name they came up with that stuck”). Who one critic jotted this memorable description about: “Like Ladytron, Shampoo and Blondie sharing a room in a loony bin (now there’s an image), Teenagersintokyo surely do more than enough to hold their own amidst the competition found lurking in the back yard of their sophisticated, shout powered trash rock genre.”

Just about to head out on their UK / European Tour, the lovely ladies of the band – Miska, Sophie, Samantha and Linda – have conscientiously filled in a Questionnaire for R*E*P*E*A*T, where they unveil everything from their musical influences, to details about recording their debut long player, to even their fantasy Guest List!

Certain to shine brightly on the music radar and be singled out as one of 2010’s undisputed ‘Hot Picks’, Teenagersintokyo are ready to take on all comers and have the skills to emerge victorious…

Lucy: Your band have been quite quiet for the last few months. Are you looking forward to playing gigs again?
Katie Jane Garside: I think I give very obtuse ans

1.To begin with and to give us an idea of some of your musical influences and tastes, if you were asked to compile a ‘Back To Mine’ CD, which acts and songs would you include?
Miska: “This is such a tough question, because there are so many influences for our music. Everything from movie soundtracks, to stage productions, to books. But in terms of artists, and songs in particular... let me see. The CD would probably include (but not be limited to) tracks by Crowded House, Hall & Oates, Kraftwerk, Fleetwood Mac, Gang Of Four, Depeche Mode, Tears For Fears, Prince, Grace Jones, Kate Bush, The Knife, Sonic Youth, Junior Boys etc. The list goes on…”

2.As a young up-and-coming group, what are your thoughts on Lily Allen “urging her fellow musicians to take a stand against file-sharing” and Muse’s Matt Bellamy “wanting a taxed, monitored ISP based on an individual’s Internet usage and how much they download.” The ultimate aim being, to enable more musicians to go full-time and earn enough money to focus all of their energies on making music and touring?

Miska: “We jump from one hard question to another. The answer is that I'm not sure what the best way to go about it is. There is definitely a change that the music industry has undergone recently, and I'm not sure anyone really knows how to deal with it effectively. Artists and record labels are losing lots of money, and people are panicking. I don't know that Lily Allen's approach is fair. She has suggested that the government should cut off the Internet connections of those found to be downloading copyrighted material... The idea of punishing and fining the fans seems ridiculous and misguided to me. You can't close your eyes to the fact that this is happening. And in my opinion, punishment is never as good a solution as working out new and ingenious ways of tackling the problem. However, there IS a problem and if we don't do something about it, full-time musicians without trust funds are going to completely disappear. Even bands that the public eye would class as 'having made it' are still catching the bus to their soundchecks and living with their parents at age 30. So perhaps Matt Bellamy's approach is a step in the right direction. Not punishing users and downloaders, but establishing frameworks that support and value the music industry. I think I'd be up for that.”

3.You’ve now relocated to London where you have been recording your debut record with David Kosten – what do you most enjoy about living here, and what do you most miss about Australia?

Miska: “Living in London is not as different as you'd expect to living in Sydney. It hasn't been a very hard adjustment to make. And the fact that we're all here together living in the same house has been comforting because in a way, it's like re-locating with family. In my opinion, the best thing about London is the access to art. Australia's permanent collections are lacking (to say the least)! So to be so saturated with art that back home you can only see in books and the Internet, that's been the best part for me. And the second-hand book shops... So many and so cheap! What do we miss about Australia? Well that's an easy one: our family, our partners, the beach and the food.”

4.Prior to recording your first LP, did you have any criteria for choosing a producer and what has been the most valuable lesson that you have learnt from these sessions?
Sophie: “I think we just really wanted someone who we could throw all our ideas at. We had a lot of different sound references for each instrument in every part of every song, so we needed someone who would see it the way that we do... and not get freaked out if we wanted to put a drum sound from the 70s with a guitar sound from the 90s and then run them both through a Dictaphone or something. I think the most valuable lesson we've learnt, is that every single song has it's own set of rules. Sometimes you just can't make a song do something else because it just won't come out sounding as good. Some songs are more open and flexible, but some songs really tell you what they want done to them in production.”

5.Would you agree that behind most great albums, there has always been a great producer?
Sophie: “It's one of those situations where you can't just have great people in a room together. It is like the split second of a great photograph – everything has to come together at the right time. David was a great fit for us because it was so open between the six of us and you felt that everyone's ideas and opinions were respected, so the ideas flowed more easily. You felt encouraged to experiment, but work quickly through the ideas and commit them to tape fast. I found this really great because as I was laying down one guitar layer, I was already thinking about what had to be done next that was missing. Sometimes so much would happen in the space of an hour.”

6.What percentage of your record collections come across in the music that you make, i.e. is it a blend of everything or more specific genres?

Sophie: “I think it's a real blend of everything we listen to. Personally, before I went into the studio I listened to a lot of my favourite guitar sounds, like building up a library of textures in my head. When I got into the studio I wouldn't imitate a specific sound, but it meant I had tones to draw on.”

7.From the Teenagersintokyo tracks that I’ve heard so far, synthesisers, guitars and bass seem to play a prominent role in your overall sound, but from all of your favourite artists / songs, are there any synth, guitar or bass lines that have stuck in your head?

Sophie: “Some of the best lines are so simple and don't use many notes – but that's what's so hard to do. Almost like really good abstract art that describes a feeling with two black lines on a white canvas. But the artist probably had to do 300 sketches to find the right two lines. The Kinks’ You Really Got Me is such a good example. You hear those notes and that raw guitar rhythm when you're out and everyone instinctively screams and starts dancing.”

8.How do you spend your time away from the band?

Samantha: “We actually all live together, so between that and rehearsing, often we don't really get that much time away from the band! When we do have time off, I like making plans to have a sunny picnic or take advantage of the great museums and galleries in London. Most likely though, I'll stay in bed for most of the day, surf the Internet and do some laundry. Maybe hit the shops and spend some invisible cash. Then later, watch films in the living room... with other members of the band!”

9.What was the first song that you wrote and were all really proud of – and lyrically, is there anything that you would still like to write a song about?
Samantha: “End It Tonight was one of the very first songs that we wrote many, many, many moons ago, when we formed and were figuring out our process of songwriting. You'd think we'd be sick of it by now, but we still have fun playing it live! Personally, one of my favourite songs of ours is Isabella. I think it really encapsulates where we were as a band when we wrote that song and I have very strong memories associated with it. The shredding guitar in the outro makes my heart weep and soar in equal measures. In terms of what I'd like to see us write about, at the moment I'm interested in the lyrics as stories, real or fictional. I used to be interested in the sound that words made to create a song, so this is a different approach for me.”

10.With the release of The Beatles and Kraftwerk remastered back catalogues, are there any other artists / groups who you would also like to see do this?
Samantha: “I'm kind of in two minds over remastered back catalogues, as I feel like part of the charm and character of older records is the fact that they were recorded and produced with the sound and technology of that time. Then on the other hand, remastering helps to realign the sound with modern technology. It's like the HD or analogue TV debate (interesting topic to speak to Miska about). So in response, no, I like the sound of past records just the way they are.”

11.What’s the best gig line-up that you’ve ever seen, including both the headline act + supports?
Samantha: “Ok, I have a super bad memory for things like this. Seeing Sonic Youth play Daydream Nation in full, followed by an encore was next level amazing. The Scientists supported which made for a really strong bill.”

12.If you could put together a fantasy Guest List featuring musicians, producers, writers, poets, artists, actors, film directors – anyone that you admire really – with the guarantee that all of these people would turn up to watch one of your shows, who would you most like to invite?
Linda: “Whoa, daunting! I think if we invited these sorts of people knowing that they were guaranteed to turn up, we would get so excited and nervous that we'd actually spontaneously combust. Picture the headlines: ‘Picasso, John Lennon and Godard at Gig: Band Implode Onstage’.”

13.Are your family and friends proud of you back home, and for you personally, how different is the music scene in Australia to that of the one in the UK?
Linda: “My family is definitely proud of us. Our band has been friends for so long, that all our parents treat us like one big family of kids for them to be proud of. Our parents and our close friends see how much hard work, money and hours we've each put into this band, and they've given us their full support along the way. That's important to us. In terms of the music scene in Australia compared to the UK, one big difference is that everything is on a much larger scale. There are way more bands, venues, club nights, record labels, everything! The scene here seems huge compared to Australia, it's exciting because there is so much going on and there seems to be such a big driving force behind the industry. There's a lot of passion here for finding new bands and the ability to be so close to the European scene is fantastic.”

14.Would you agree that the Internet has made The Music Industry a more equal playing field in terms of artists / bands being able to promote their music, and if people were to take one thing from Teenagersintokyo, what would you like it to be?
Linda: “The Internet has definitely made an immense difference in recent years, because anyone can put a song online and have it heard on an international scale. Our band is the perfect example of that. We put a track on to our MySpace site in 2006, and from that we got a phone call from a London record label called Back Yard Recordings who had heard it and loved it. Fast-forward about three years and that label have signed us and moved us over to live in London. Would that have happened without the Internet? Hell no! And if people can take one thing from us, it would be our gear after a gig. Please. It is the most annoying feeling in the world when you've played a gig and you're all hyped up, but you've got to spend the next hour figuring out how to tetris a full drum kit and amps into the mini-van home.”

15.Lastly, chips or cream buns?

Linda: “Chips. I'm going to assume that this means not only hot chips but crisps as well. The variety of flavours that this opens up easily triumphs over the cream bun.”

A very special thanks to Miska, Sophie, Samantha + Linda, and to Tasha @ Anorak London, for all of their time and help.



“Yesterday I woke up from this dream”

wers to questions...It's never about looking forward to it. Actually maybe I should change the
script, maybe we are looeir musicm the 3rd album?