I know what you’re thinking: what would it sound like if The Beach Boys and Daft Punk collaborated on an album?
As crazy as it sounds, a duo from New Orleans named Video Age may have given us that sound. The album in question: Pop Therapy.
When it comes to the best outsider synth pop albums of this decade, three projects immediately come to mind: Part Time’s What Would You Say, Neon Indian’s Vega Intl .Night School and, of course, Video Age’s Pop Therapy. Released in 2018, I found about Pop Therapy only a few months ago. Surprised I had never heard of it until now, my first thought was, this has to be the most underrated album of 2018. Needless to say, a Video Age interview was a must. Let’s meet the chaps who made it, Ross Farbe and Ray Micarelli.
Someone on YouTube described Pop Therapy’s title track as “beach boys meets daft punk”. Can you confirm if this is an accurate description? The people need to know.
So you just got back from touring. What’s an ideal day like out there for you guys?
Listening to a mixtape our friend Ryan Seiter made.
What song from Pop Therapy has been the most fun to perform live?
The title track is always fun because we love to shuffle.
Any covers you’ve been performing or would like to?
We covered “Loving You Is On My Mind” by The Meters.
Any good bands you’ve seen live while out on the road?
We played with a band called The Pantones in Pamona, CA, they were really great. They just graduated High School.
Also Mind Shrine from Houston and The Hecks from Chicago. We’re really lucky, we get to play with great bands on tour all the time.
There seems to be a distinct shift in production and sound from your first to second album. Tell us about the growth you experienced in creative process from Living Alone to Pop Therapy.
On Living Alone we were experimenting with different ways of recording, and ended up using a cheap drum machine on a couple songs. We decided we liked that sound and wanted to take it further on Pop Therapy. We got a nicer, more versatile drum machine, and based all of the recordings around that. We also had our band mates Nick Corson and Duncan Troast play on a bunch of tracks, which added a ton of energy to the recordings.
What was the recording process like for PT? I mean, how do you get into the mind state to create such groovy, nostalgic gems? Like are there Swayze posters around the studio or something better?
Haha, no Swayze in the studio but definitely in our hearts. We recorded the album at Ross’s house and our practice space, mostly on an 8 track reel to reel. All of our instruments and most of the recording equipment came from the ‘80s. It’s vintage stuff that has a vibe but it’s relatively affordable and still works. But at the end of the day, if the music makes us dance and feel good, then we like it.
What’s the ideal setting for someone to hear Pop Therapy for the first time?
You gotta hear it live! Otherwise, at a crawfish boil.
What albums of the past inspired Pop Therapy?
Donald Fagen - The Nightfly
Sly and the Family Stone - There’s A Riot Goin On
Paul McCartney - II, Back To The Egg
Hiroshi Satoh - This Boy
Cleaners From Venus - Midnight Cleaners
What song from the album was the most meaningful or difficult to create?
Lover Surreal was one of the first songs written for the album, and one of the last recordings finished. We experimented with a lot of different versions before it all fell into place. We ended up syncing a synth sequencer to a drum machine to make the bass line, which was a first for us.
Any surprising artists or hot celebs reach out with praise after hearing “lover surreal” on Vice News/HBO?
We’re just glad the guy from the Mountain Goats liked it!
If Pop Therapy could’ve come from anyone of your favorite bands of the past, who would it be?
Quick hot take: most underrated 80s album?
Oppenheimer Analysis - New Mexico
Also, a hot single from Blackway & Helene - Music For Us
There’s so much mystery and illusion alluded to in the lyrics (“I fell in love from a distance” is so good), which I feel the cover complements well. What’s the message behind the album art for Pop Therapy?
Ben Hill made the cover art for Pop Therapy. His artwork is amazing. You’d really have to ask him, but we see it depicting different phases of personal growth, looking forward to a bright future.
Can you tell us something interesting about any of the instruments used to create the album? Is that a vocoder on the title track?
It’s an MXR Talk Box with a Roland JX3P running into it. That was really fun to learn how to use. It took a lot of practice. The inspiration was Zapp & Roger.
Are there any visual artists (dabbling in music) that you enjoy right now? I can’t help but make connections to @pilar_zeta ‘s whole aesthetic when listening to Pop Therapy with headphones at night.
We just checked out Pilar Zeta, really cool stuff! A few visual/musical artists who we love and have worked with:
Parks Perdue @metal_worldpeace / Felicia Douglass @feldou / Arron Denton @arronlowell
What’s your dream collaboration?
Is the 1983 track “All Right” by Christopher Cross a good example of what “pop therapy” means to you? Tbh, it’s one of my favorite songs. “No Tomorrow” hits the spot for me in a similar way.
As long as it gives you that good feeling :)
You recently shared a music video for “Is it her”. What inspired you to create visuals for that specific track over any others?
It’s a love song, and we wanted to make our own rom com vibe.
When can we expect new music and what will it sound like?
You’ll have to stay tuned and see!