HIGH WAISTED: TINSEL, PARTIES & POLITICS
Jacket by Johnny Was
It’s challenging to feel like an outsider in New York City, but Jessica Dye of NYC’s High Waisted might have found a way when she decided to form a surf-pop group in a concrete jungle of closeted killjoys. But what’s the best way of making friends when you’re a nonconformist? If you’re Jessica, you convince everyone your party is better than theirs. What makes a better party? Zero bad vibes – and simulating a quintessential rager from an episode of GIRLS that has a happy ending where no one gets hurt (emotionally).
High Waisted is twenty-first century surf rock in the vein of Best Coast meets tinsel-pop á la Canada’s Supermoon. High Waisted’s 2016 debut, On Ludlow, amassed praise from GQ, Nylon, Noisey, Brooklyn Vegan, and a laundry list of other notable names. However, despite being crowned “best party band” by GQ, Dye is looking to do much more than help Urban Outfitters sell pool inflatables in NYC. As the band begins to record their highly anticipated sophomore album, they’ll be taking into consideration the zeitgeist brought about by the current political climate and Dye’s role as a self-proclaimed “lipstick feminist”. At the moment though, Dye seems poised to bring a universality to surf rock much like the charm Lorde brought to Hot Topic’s mall goth culture.
Jacket by Jeff Cafone, Dress by Topshop, Necklace by Hellion
Jacket by Day, Bodysuit by Alix, Pants by 2ndday, Necklace by Hellion
Online you make it very clear High Waisted is looking for a party, but what is High Waisted’s ideal party?
We aren’t looking for the party, we are the party, we bring the party. Our ideal party can’t be planned. It evolves naturally. Everyone jokes that I say, “Let’s just go for one beer, pretty please!” But everyone knows “one beer” really means we will be out til dawn, we will end up at some insane person’s house, someone will skinny dip, we’ll smoke on the fire escape, there will be balloons and cats, someone will lose a shoe or a tooth or their phone or their mind and on the train ride home (for which we will jump the styles) we will eat grilled cheese sandwiches as we scream Misfits songs at the top of our lungs. It will never be the same and it will never be boring. I didn’t move to NYC to be a wallflower.
Lots of people like to party, but I feel like we all have different reasons for going out and risking drama or a hangover the next morning. What’s your motivation for embracing the ‘out all night’ lifestyle?
“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” – Benjamin Franklin
For me, it’s both.
Would you rather be high or wasted? :]
I’d rather be in love.
Your debut is titled On Ludlow, which is no doubt a nod to the beloved street of New York’s Lower East Side. Would you say the LES is more encompassing of the band’s scene than Brooklyn?
I live in the Lower East Side. I met all of my bandmates on Ludlow. We’ve all worked on Ludlow. We’ve all stumbled drunk on Ludlow. We’ve kissed boys and girls on Ludlow. It’s old New York, and it’s where everyone knows my name.
If we found you on Ludlow Street where would you be hanging?
Sipping coffee at Cafe Vita, scarfing down Panang Curry at Hi-Thai, sipping Down East Ciders at Iggys, nibbling on fried pickles at Pianos.
Now that you’ve catapulted into the buzz of the blogosphere are there any misconceptions about you or the band that you’re wrestling with?
The biggest battle we face is gender equality. As much as I love chatting about fashion, make up, or my hair color, I’m actually incredibly knowledgeable about gear, recording techniques and finding the perfect tone. I love embracing my femininity, but I’m a musician first. I shouldn’t have to sacrifice my ‘girliness’ to be viewed as a credible artist.
On Instagram, you posted a photo of a woman languidly holding a cigarette with superimposed text that read “All my idols are dead and my enemies are in power.” Will future releases see the band getting more overtly political or would you say that the escapism facilitated by your music is in itself political?
This is something I’ve really struggled with. We’re not an outwardly political band. Our contributions are consciously less obvious. People turn to art and music in times of crisis for relief, for empathy and as you mentioned, escapism. I want to be the party that relieves some of the worries. Above all, our goal is to ensure that our shows are safe spaces for everyone to have a good time. This was true even before the election and is is more important now than ever. I spent most of the winter in the wake of the election writing our new album. It was fucking impossible not to feel the weight of the world pushing into my writing process. Our sophomore album will be a response to the stress of the world.
If you were to start a side project in a different genre what genre would you be interested in exploring/translating your sound into? Is there anyone in particular that you’d like to start the band with?
A very heartfelt alt-country record with Ryan Adams to co-incide with a cameo on CMT’s show Nashville.
You’re recording new material this spring! Can you give us any mini-spoilers on what we can expect?
New rule: NO RULES. I threw away all limitations of what I thought High Waisted should sound like. I followed every beautiful idea to completion, threw some dirt on it, tore it up, and started again. You have your whole life to write your first record and about 3 months to write your second. I’m really excited to head on tour in March and test our new material on stage. My new work is the most vulnerable emotionally I’ve ever opened up, and difficult in terms of technical playing.
3/3/2017 NYC – Brooklyn Bazaar
3/5/2017 Pittsburgh, PA – Spirit
3/6/2017 Lexington, KY – The Burl
3/7/2017 Knoxville, TN – Preservation Pub
3/8/2017 Asheville, NC – The Altamont Theatre
3/11/2017 Atlanta RowdyDowdy
3/12/2017 – 3/18/2017 Austin, TX SXSW
3/19/2017 Beaumont, TX Texas Rose Saloon
3/20/2017 New Orleans, LA – Sidney’s Saloon
3/21/2017 Orlando, FL – Will’s Pub
3/22/2017 Tampa, FL- New World Brewery
3/23/2017 Delray Beach, FL – Vintage Tap
3/23/2017 West Palm Beach, FL – Respectable Street
3/24/2017 Delray Beach, FL – Kismet Vintage
3/25/2017 Gainesville, FL – High Dive
3/26/2017 Tallahassee, FL – The Wilbury
3/27/2017 Athens, GA – Georgia Theatre
3/28/2017 Raleigh, NC – Kings
3/29/2017 Charlottesville, VA – The Southern Cafe and Music Hall
3/30/2017 Staunton, VA – The Pompei Lounge
3/31/2017 Harrisonburg, VA – Easy Greasy
4/2/2017 Washington DC – DC9 Nightclub