Friday, December 12, 2008

Little Joy

My interview with the band Little Joy appears in this week's WE.

Little Joy (from left): Rodrigo Amarante, Binki Shapiro, and Fabrizio Moretti.

Little Joy (from left): Rodrigo Amarante, Binki Shapiro, and Fabrizio Moretti.

MUSIC: Little Joy springs forth from a Stroke of luck

Up until about six months ago, almost no one had heard of Binki Shapiro, but now she’s one-third of Little Joy, the new laid-back indie-lounge band formed by her famous boyfriend, Fabrizio Moretti, drummer for on-hiatus rock hipsters the Strokes. Little Joy’s origins are as feel-good as their songs: Moretti met up with Rodrigo Amarante (singer-guitarist for Los Hermanos) at a Portuguese music festival in 2007, and the two became fast friends. Amarante then relocated to Los Angeles to work with Devendra Banhart, and he and Moretti met Shapiro. The trio traded musical ideas and ended up renting a house in the Echo Park neighbourhood to write and record, eventually naming themselves after their favourite watering hole. (It’s no accident that the songs on their Brazilian-tinged debut are perfect drinking music.)

Little Joy’s self-titled debut is receiving some high-profile reviews, thanks to the album’s rock-star pedigree and its lazy-day-at-the-beach rhythms. (It doesn’t hurt that Amarante’s voice has inspired more than a few people to double-check the liner notes to make sure it’s not Strokes lead singer Julian Casablancas.) Still, it’s a lot to get used to for Shapiro. The perpetually shy unknown is suddenly touring in a van with her partner and their band, and the first time WE calls to talk about her school-of-rock immersion, she demures, asking to postpone the interview until the next day because she’s too shy to chat in front of the guys. All together now: Awwww!

WE: What was your musical background before Little Joy?
Shapiro: I learned how to play the guitar a few years ago — I taught myself, and I wrote a few songs, playing at my house and doing songs on GarageBand and stuff like that. Fab and Rodrigo were really the first people I showed my songs to. I mean, I showed them to a few people before, but I was always really secretive or shy about it.

Were you scared about showing your songs to established musicians?
I was a bit, but it wasn’t about them. It was about showing them to anyone. Fab was really shy and timid to show me what he’d been working on, because he hadn’t really shown people before. He was sort of in the same boat as me, so it gave me comfort to do the same.

How did the band come together?
One thing just came after the other and it just sort of fell into place, and we were all getting to know each other and discovering who we were. We were in that beginning stage of friendship where everything is very fun and interesting and you haven’t heard people’s stories a million times, so it was just born out of having a good time and a common love for music. The sound sort of came from banging on something and going, “Oh, this sounds cool!”

Did you have a favourite part of making this album, or a song that really clicked for you?
I was at my sister’s house when Fab called me and, I mean, the amount of times I’ve gotten these phone calls from Fab and he’s like, “Wait, you gotta hear this!” and he’d set the phone down by the guitar and I’m, like, at the bank or something. This time he called me and said, “I wrote a song for you and I want you to hear it.” So I came home and he showed me “Brand New Start,” and he sat there and sang it very sweetly. While we were recording it, everyone who came to visit us during that time would leave singing the chorus. I’ve always had a closeness to that song.


Anonymous said...

A lot of musicians just develop songs out of ideas and situations and people they make up in their head. Some, like Jack White, insist they never write songs about their own lives or their friends. I always assumed "Brand New Start" was like that, having nothing to do with Moretti's real personal life... It's so sweet he wrote that song for Binki! And for her to help perform it... that's a cool that a girlfriend and boyfriend can share that together.

Unknown said...

...dumped by Fab......fab's current squeese for now is Kristen Wiig of SNL fame.