Convo with Movie Club

Hailing from Los Angeles, California, Movie Club is a Venice based duo formed by Jessamyn Violet on drums and Vince Cuneo on guitar. 

The band are back now to the music scene, releasing a brand new LP, called Black Flamingo, this is also available in a vinyl format that came out just a few days ago with the hope to bring a new perfective into this weird moment of our modern history. 

The record has some incredible collaborations with many legends in the music industry, including Rami Jaffee, Jessy Greene, and Tim Lefebvre who are best known for their work with iconic acts such as Foo Fighters, David Bowie, and P!NK

Mixed by Jeff Thompson in his studio in Van Nuys and mastered by the talented Mike Tucci, finishing the process the legendary Andy VanDette, who already worked with Beastie Boys, Britney Spears, just mentioning a few names, cut the record.

We had the opportunity to have a fascinating convo with Movie Club, you can follow this up below. 

1-Where did you come from and where are you based now, and why? 

JV: Originally from Boston, MA, I moved across the country for the simple fact that I visited Venice Beach and fell head-over-heels in love with it. The street art, the beach, the canals, the best people-watching in the states, and the sense of community here has kept me loyal to this place. 

VC: I’m from Connellsville, PA, which is about an hour south of Pittsburgh. I moved to Los Angeles three years ago to pursue my dreams as a musician and happily landed in Venice. 

2-What is the best and the worst about Venice Beach, in your opinion? 

JV: Well, the worst part about it right now is the growing number of homeless that are being shuffled around and left to fend for themselves. It hurts my heart to see that. But at the same time, that is the best part about Venice Beach, the diversity, the wide range of character and class that is pure magic and keeps this place the coolest. 

VC: There is an energy and community here that I haven’t felt in any other city in the US.

3-When did you start your music career, and what are the highlights so far? 

JV: I started out studying classical piano at the age of 8 and continued through college. I began drumming ten years ago, wanting a more physical experience playing music, and it has been the most rewarding journey. One highlight has been teaching young women the importance of being a female in the rhythm section. Another shining point has been performing live and watching people dance. Really, as a drummer all I want to do is make people dance, take them away from reality and lead them to lose themselves in the grooves. 

VC: I have been playing music since I was very young. I decided to approach music professionally in 2010. My most fond memories over the past decade have been making records in NYC & LA. I’ve learned so much from those experiences and collaborating is my favorite way to connect with other creative minds. 

4-What do you fear the most in this business? 

JV: There are several fears that have been hard for me to personally fight through. One fact is that drums are an incredibly male-dominated instrument and guys are encouraged to start from a young age so they have a huge head start. But I don’t want women to be intimidated to add their punctuation to the musical conversation no matter when they pick up sticks, so I have had to face that every day and do my best to be the strongest I can be despite me picking up the sticks later in life than most. 

Another fear is one of survival. The current music industry climate isn’t allowing independent artists to make enough of a profit to survive. As streaming is our only readily-available source of revenue besides merch during this pandemic, it would be great (and logical) to see streaming services start offering artists more for streams, or some sort of continual-content-based contracts. The meager pay scale makes it near impossible for indie artists to cover costs of production, even if you’re getting a significant amount of streams world-wide. With so much reported gross profit for, say, Spotify, you wonder where all the money is going—and if it continues to be this way, will independently wealthy artists become the only ones able to get their art out there? Why is the world more worried about shareholders than struggling artists? It’s time to start turning these backwards systems around. Streaming apps have all the power right now to create hope for independent artists, and yet we can only hope they decide to do innovative things to keep the diverse music community alive as small labels and venues are going under at an alarming rate. 

VC: Venues and labels underpaying musicians. Millionaires paying fractions of a penny for a stream. The music business changes every day. When it comes down to it, all we can do is try to create art without fear and hope it connects with an audience.

5-The duo seems to be pretty busy. How is it to be surrounded by so many incredible musicians? 

JV: We’re extremely fortunate to be living in Los Angeles where we can meet and befriend our heroes and even more fortunate that they are supportive and enthusiastic of our project and happy to collaborate. 

VC: Since the band formed two years ago, we have been very grateful to make four records and collaborate with talented musicians, engineers, videographers, and visual artists. It was an honor to work with these legendary talents, but I am even more proud to call these people my friends. Without collaboration, this project wouldn’t exist. 

6-How is to have members of Foo Fighters, David Bowie, and P!NK in your record? 

JV: Rami Jaffee and Jessy Greene have been great friends and collaborators for years now, after meeting them through the Venice community and going on many a fun bike ride on the boardwalk. It’s been amazing to have their instrumental artistry on a few tracks for this album. 

VC: I was introduced to Tim Lefebvre’s playing back in 2014 when he was playing with Derek Trucks and thought “what a beast.” When I moved to Los Angeles, I met Tim when he was performing with his wife Rachel Eckroth at a local jazz club. After hearing his bass lines on David Bowie’s Black Star, I could hear his bass lines working great for Movie Club. While we were working on our last EP Man o’ War, Jessamyn told me to hit him up about playing on the record. He added a new sonic level to our music that we were so grateful for. After recording guitar and drums for Black Flamingo, we had three tracks that were calling for Tim’s bass and lucky for us, he was around and answered the call with enthusiasm.

7-Please, tell us the details about this new release. 

JV: We decided to release Black Flamingo on Nov. 27th, “Black Friday,” because it gave us enough lead time and sounds kinda cool. We don’t actually support the capitalist idea behind Black Friday, but do hope that people choose to support the small businesses and artists they care about by voting for them with their money. I’m thrilled that we’re doing a small batch of vinyl along with the release as well. It sounds so good! Our friend Jeff Thompson engineered and mixed the album at his studio in Van Nuys, he has some great studio tricks up his sleeves. The talented Mike Tucci mastered the tracks. Legendary Andy VanDette (Beastie Boys, Britney Spears) cut the record, and it was pressed by the good folk at Blue Sprocket. We did all the album artwork ourselves. 

VC: Black Flamingo is our debut full-length record and I couldn’t be more excited to release it into the world. This is also the first time I have had the chance to put music on a vinyl record, which has always been a dream of mine. I am also so proud of our new music video for the title track that was directed by our friend the magician, musician, and director Ran Pink. 

8-How do you see this situation the world is facing right now will change the music industry? 

JV: I haven’t heard many politicians mention the current state of affairs for artists and venues publicly, as we are drowning in issues this year. It feels a bit like musicians are at the bottom of the priority pole. It has now become a tired fact that a small margin of people are getting extraordinarily wealthy at the cost of the entire middle class in America, which is what gave it such a thriving music scene to begin with. I hope this changes, because music is what helps so many people survive. It has been a refuge of sorts for every single kind of music lover. Fans of all types of music should be able to find a home in their music scene that includes like-minded people and events. And that all goes away when venues close and bands’ resources dry up. I sure hope more people with more power step up to turn this around. 

VC: The live music industry is taking a huge hit right now because of the pandemic. Thankfully there are groups like the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) that are fighting to keep independent venues afloat. But, it is great to see fans supporting bands by buying their music or making donations to show the need for music to exist.

9-Which message do you have to your fans and people who are checking your craft for the first time? 

JV: Hey, we are so thrilled to have your ears’ attention. Hope you like to headbang. Our songs are meant to mean what people want them to mean, to belong to every person who listens to them, regardless of age, race, and nationality. We aim to unify. Classical was the original instrumental music and the universal scope of people who appreciated it was definitely an inspiration. 

VC: Our goal is to create music for everyone around the globe. Without the need for words, the hope is that anyone can put on a Movie Club record and connect. 

10-What is next for Movie Club! 

JV: Despite the incredible amount of obstacles this world is facing, we are going to keep going no matter what. Building a band is far too much work to walk away from just because it’s extra difficult times. Plus, we’re too excited about our international outreach and are itching to get on tour as soon as it’s possible. We have some other secret app-related plans that programmers are welcome to get in touch about ☺ 

VC: After dropping this record, we are going to continue writing, recording and releasing new music. Since we love to create visuals for our music, expect some more music videos over the next few months. Hopefully live music will return soon because we look forward to touring.

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