Photo of the band Gorgeous by some park railings

10 Questions with New York noise-pop duo Gorgeous as they release sophomore album ‘Sapsucker’

Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder and while the jagged, capricious sounds created by New York duo Gorgeous might not be what you’d call conventionally easy on the ears, they sound pretty fine to us.

The pulchritudinous pair revel in playing with contrast, exemplified by ‘Sweet’, the opening track of their second album Sapsucker, due for release this week via Sad Cactus Records. Judd Anderman conjures up a swarm of furious bees, pounding his kit at a bmp more often associated with thrash metal or abstract noise art, the gaps between strikes barely detectable, while Dana Lipperman intones the single word title in a long, gentle, breathy exhale. Elsewhere, ‘Elbow Stress Rash’ is every bit as itchy and agitated as its title would suggest and ‘Big Hands’ jitters between scattershot spoken word and guitars that sound like they’re trying to style out a fall down a flight of stairs. But it’s not all abrasive and angular – lead single ‘Raindrop’ is a sumptuous shoegazey slice of deliciousness with a marvellous meandering guitar line, while ‘Love Bug’ starts out as a sparse lullabye before a starburst tempo change lifts us into the chorus.

While Sapsucker isn’t going to be in the running for a musical Miss World tiara, its offbeat beauty has certainly earned it a special place in our hearts.

We caught up with Dana and Judd to ask them ten questions and they told us about crooked castles, visual grammar and their music addiction.

1) What inspires you to make music?

Mostly other people’s music, going to shows and seeing great live acts at small clubs and at the last few DIY spots left in NYC, listening to records. We’re both sort of addicted to making music in the way that musicians often seem to be, and get mopey and depressed when we’re not engaged in some kind of physical, musical practice, but we definitely get charged up and excited by hearing (and seeing/feeling/smelling/…) music made by other people.  

2) What is the best description of your music that you’ve read/heard in a review?

Fecking Bahamas wrote that our first release Egg contained “more silence than sound” and indulged in “experimentations in musical space” in an indie-slacker attempt to build “a deliberately crooked castle…more open space than stone”, which struck us both as a generous assessment, and that crooked castle part still seems like a good metaphor for our musical goals to the extent we’ve talked about them and been purposeful about chasing them.      

3) How has your approach to making music changed since you started out?

We are trying to be less neurotic and precious about how we write and record music, and so hopefully we’ll be able to release more music more quickly going forward than we’ve been able to in the past. We still aspire to make distinctively weird and rhythmically/sonically interesting music, but we also try very hard to make it fun, at least for other weirdos. In a Youtube interview Judd remembers watching years ago, Greg Saunier (Deerhoof drummer) defined pop music in relation to its libidinous, adolescent appeal, and so we try to make music that we would have liked as the band of nerd/indie rock teenagers we once were (and remain at heart), regardless of the accuracy of that memory.  

4) How important is the visual/aesthetic side of your music and why?

We were definitely thinking in very geometric terms about our earliest songs as we wrote them, which our friend Talia helped to convey in the album art for Egg, our first release. But in hindsight, we’ve managed to sneakily acquire a visual grammar for the band over time based largely on the contributions of our friends, from our cover art (Talia Rozensher), to our t-shirt design (Preston Spurlock), to our photos (Michelle LoBianco). As visual artists we are early grade school level practitioners at best, so we are grateful and deeply admire the hard work of our friends and the way they’ve helped to represent the band in visual terms.  

5) What do you enjoy most and least about playing live?

Most – seeing and hearing and hanging out with other bands; least – staying up late!

6) What is the strangest thing that’s ever happened to you at a gig?

A strange but wonderful thing happened to us at a house show in New Brunswick, NJ, when the basement full of mostly college students danced with enthusiastic abandon to our music, which was brand new to nearly all of them and difficult to dance to for obvious reasons to anyone who has heard a song or two, for the duration of our set.

7) If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be and why?

More support, financial and otherwise, for small, independent and unsigned artists and bands, who are often the ones making the most interesting new music.  

8) If you could collaborate with any artist, past or present, who would it be and what would you work on together?

We’ve only worked with a few people to make records in the past and will keep working with those folks, particularly our producer/mastermind/all around friend Mike DiSanto, based on the results and the good times had. But if we were ever to collaborate with more musicians, we’d double up on drums with Kid Millions and double up on vocals/guitar with Miranda Winters of Melkbelly, two of our musical idols!

9) Who is your favourite new band/artist that we should be checking out and what do you like about them?

Youbet put out an album called Compare and Despair right before COVID hit that too few people have heard. The songs are beautifully written and played and produced, and just amazingly consistent in their quality. And Nick and the band are special to see and hear live.

10) If you could give any aspiring musicians one piece of advice, what would it be?

Be kind to other people is maybe trite sounding but still seems worth saying and trying to do, since it can be hard to do on days when the world’s been shitty to you. And as Judd always tells Dana when she gets bogged down with the non-musical side of band life, focus on the music!

The band Gorgeous stand around a large yellow concrete sphere in a park

Sapsucker is out on 2nd June via Sad Cactus Records. Stream on all of the usual services or buy on limited edition cassette or CD via Bandcamp

Follow Gorgeous on Facebook / Instagram / Twitter

Article by Paul Maps
Photography by Michelle LoBianco

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