photographer/ NATALIE NEAL
story / COCO BJERRE make up / YASUKO SHAPIRO
assistant photo / CHRIS DUCE stylist/ CORY NIXON
assistant stylist / DANIELLE REUTHER
Sisters Jennifer and Jessie Clavin have been traveling a long road together as musicians. Composing music since a very young age, both girls were later members of the popular all-girl punk band, Mika Miko; after the band dissolved in 2009, they spent some time apart doing projects of their own, until the two blondes finally re-united in LA to form Bleached.
Since its formation in 2010, Bleached has slowly but surely developed a following and reputation that has put them in the spotlight as one of the most promising bands in the punk-rock scene. Their music combines sounds and genres that constantly pay tribute to originals like The Rolling Stones, Ramones, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Blondie, among many others. Re-defining “sisterly love,” Jennifer and Jessie not only share sisterhood and a friendship, but also an incredibly tight musical bond; the pair writes and records all of their songs themselves.
With three already well-received singles, the band’s much anticipated debut album, Ride Your Heart, finally arrived on April 2 via Dead Oceans. The record meets all demands and expectations with its flawless amalgamation of punk and melodic rock and roll, accompanied by smart, heartfelt lyrics. After their booming presentations at this and last year’s SXSW and CMJ Music Marathon, Bleached is ready to take the next step with their first full-length album, and a tour that will bring their crazy fun and energetic shows around US and Canada this Spring.
Ladygunn got the chance to speak with the golden-haired sisters about their music, the future, Ride Your Heart, boys and what is like have your sister as a friend and bandmate. Bleached are on tour now!
Jennifer: Dress, Maggy’s Closet. Socks, American Apparel. Backpack, Cobra Snake. Cardigan, Rock Candy. Sunglasses, Stylist Own. Earrings, Salty Fox. Jessie: Dress, Maggy’s Closet. Jacket, Cobra Snake. Sunglasses, Stylist Own.
Rings, Salty Fox.
What is the core essence of Ride Your Heart? What were you trying to accomplish and communicate with this album?
Jessie- For Ride Your Heart we were trying to expand the sound and quality from our first three 7inches. I felt like I was also trying to use familiar guitar tones from bands I grew up listening to but keeping my own style of music writing.
Jennifer – I was just excited to record all the songs we had been demoing for so long. I didn’t really have a big picture of what I wanted. I just knew it was all gonna work out once we started recording.
How was the composition process for the new record? Did you use any previously composed material or did you start from scratch?
Jessie- The base of all the songs was pretty much composed on demos, but we did spend 2 weeks in preproduction playing these songs live with bass, guitar, and drums, structuring the songs and preparing us for the recording process. Once we started recording we tracked guitar, bass and drums then over dubbed with vocals, backing vocals, more guitars, leads and such, organ, and percussion.
You girls have been making music since a very young age, how has that process changed over time? Do you guys have well-defined roles when it’s time to write and record music or is it more of an organic flow?
Jessie- We definitely have our roles defined in the writing process for bleached. Jen starts with the song on guitar, making a melody, and doing the lyrics. Then I will add the guitar leads, bass, and some harmonizing. I think we’re really set with these roles and like what we both give to the band, but it’s possible for the next record we may try new things.
There is often some sort of natural rivalry and competition between sisters, how has your relationship been affected by being in a band together? What has changed from your time at Mika Miko to now being in Bleached where it all depends mostly on you two?
Jessie- Jen and I can have our sister moments, but I feel like competition with each other has never been a thing. We’re really supportive of each other, and usually like what the other one brings to the table when we’re writing a song. Now that it is just Jen and I working together as Bleached, I definitely take it more serious, and it feels easier for just the two of us to meet up and write.
Jennifer - It has become a lot easier with it being just us two. Trying to manage a band of 5 people, all equally involved sometimes got very very stressful.
Do you think the suburban isolation in which you grew up had any influence in your music and your relationship as musicians? Is this influence showed in the new album in some way?
Jessie- We were living in like the deep of the San Fernando Valley! We would go to shows as much as we could, but getting anywhere without a car was pretty difficult; it could sometimes take a 2-hour bus ride. But since we were going to so many shows, one day it just kind of hit us that we really wanted to be the band performing on stage… So it actually really helped being isolated and having each other to play our instruments together. At the time we were listening to a lot of punk, teaching ourselves how to play songs from bands like The Slits and The Germs. You can still hear punk in the music we create, including our new album, but there are many other influences from other bands we have picked up over time.
Do you have any other brothers or sisters? What do your parents say about having their two girls dedicating their life to music?
Jessie- Our parents are huge supporters, our dad always had guitars around the house growing up, and our Mom is probably our number one fan! We also have two older half-sisters on our dad’s side and they are both scientists!
You spent some time apart working with other bands, Jennifer in New York and Jessie in LA; how did these experiences helped you as musicians and how did you know it was time to form Bleached together? Do you think your experience with other bands, including Mika Miko is somehow revealed in Bleached’s sound?
Jessie- I think we really needed that time apart to try other things. It was nice to go in a different direction with myself starting some new bands in LA, but I knew Bleached was what I really wanted to do. I think if any of our experiences are revealed in Bleached it’s more on the confidence we have now, which can shine through the music writing. For this album I really wanted to take some chances and not hold back…
Jennifer – I learned a lot during that time in my life. Taking a break from everything and trying something new made me realize that I really wanted to be doing Bleached.
Jennifer: Collar, Opening Ceremony. Top, Motel Rocks. Skirt, Motel Rocks. Socks, American Apparel. Shoes, Vintage. Bracelet and earrings, Nettie Kent. Jessie: Sweater Dress, Cobra Snake. Blazer, Vintage.
You have a clear inclination for classic rock and roll, what band you think has had the biggest influence in your work as composers?
Jessie- Well… We have a lot of influences, but for rock n roll, I would have to say Johnny Thunders, Rolling Stones, Velvet Underground, David Bowie, Creedence Clearwater Revival…
Jennifer – Also Blondie and Siouxsie and the Banshees.
How was your experience at SXSW this year compared to last year’s?
Jessie- We had about 6 shows less this year, so that really made a difference. I felt like I had more time to go see other bands and meet up with friends!
Jennifer- Yeah it was like we had more time to do stuff but then you had to pace yourself more cuz we still had a lot of shows to play. It was kinda like being a kid in the candy store that isn’t aloud to eat the candy.
About the upcoming tour, is there a particular place you girls are looking forward to play at?
Jessie- I’m pretty excited to play in New York, I think that will be tons of fun! I’m also really excited to go back to Europe; we were just there for a press tour and had only one show in London, but I think it will be awesome to finally play around Europe with our new full-length record!
Jennifer – For some reason I’m really excited for Toronto. Maybe cuz I get to eat the best Poutine, but also because the last time we played there it was so much fun.
How do you feel about White Lung and Cloud Nothings joining you on tour? How do these bands complement your music and your show?
Jessie- I really love when we meet up with other bands on tour like White Lung and Cloud Nothings. It’s cool to see us all in the same boat touring, meeting up in a town like El Paso…
Jennifer - They are all really cool people and performers, so it just makes it way more fun.
What does Bleached mean to you guys? How did you come up with the name?
Jessie- Bleached to us means forever… Once you bleach something you can’t really go back, it’s forever, and forever we are sisters!
What’s next for Bleached? Any new directions, goals or aspirations for the future?
Jessie- We have our US tour in April and in May we go to Europe but not sure how long that will be.
Jennifer – Yeah and I’m really excited to start recording new songs sooner than later. One song didn’t make it on the record and it’s like my favorite.
Can you pick a song out of the album that resonates with any relationships you are going though now?
Jennifer – Oh yeah, “Outta My Mind”. I actually wrote that song a really long time ago and then when we were recording I had to come up with more lyrics. So the lyrics that got added are about this guy that kept playing games with me! I finally saw the whole picture and I stopped talking to him. It sucked cuz I really liked him, but it was wearing me out so I had to put an end to it.
Can you tell us about any boys that inspired certain tracks? <3
Jennifer – Blahhhhhh. They’re all crazy… but so am I.
Bracelet, Salty Fox. Jessie: Dress, Agyness Deyn for Dr. Martens. Jacket, Vintage.
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Check out Bleached in the #7 LADYGUNN