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7 Questions for Social Studies
Annie Tittiger | Photo: Courtesy of Social Studies | November 6, 2012
The hyper-local, well-loved indie rock band Social Studies is about to debut their sophomore effort, Developer, with a show at the Independent. We sit down with lead singer Natalia Rogovin and bassist Jesse Hudson to ask the truly pressing questions.
You used Kickstarter to fund this recent album. What was that process like?
Jesse Hudson: it was really heart warming and surprising experience. It made the album like a concrete thing. It wasn’t just us with an engineer there was an expectation and excitement from fans. It’s the brave new world of music, and it’s more and more of this crowd sourcing.
Natalia Rogovin: In the new sort of music industry it’s a lot more rare where [record labels] give you deals with upfront money. We were in a situation where they wanted to produce our record but we needed to give them a product to get out there. Funding was an issue, and we had already put in as much personal money as we could afford. We know we have a really strong grassroots bass of fans that support us so we decided to run Kickstarter. We ended up exceeding our goal. It was an amazing experience.
What’ll be different about Developer from your last release, Wind Up Wooden Heart?
NR: It’ll definitely have a social studies sound, but the song writing process was different (I wrote a lot of these songs when I was living alone in the woods in Ukiah). We’ve matured musically and kind of reeled in some of the rebelliousness. Maybe a little bit darker but still driving and powerful. We really tried to elevate the production of the music but also the music itself. The sound goes in a different direction and it’s one we can grow into.
JH: The moodiness comes through the arrangement [our producer] had a lot of great ideas. There’s just a certain confidence that we came in with that we had really crafted these songs to keep the pace. We took our time with the writing and creation.
So why the name Developer?
NR: It’s referencing the development of the each of us as musicians and our band. It’s very personal but in a lot of ways it’s about art and creation in general. A lot of the songs are about the artistic process and dealing with that and how it relates to life. Developer references photography and it’s a very cinematic album. It represents us growing in our sound. We really found our direction.
Speaking of cinematic, the video for your new single, “Terracur”, is beautifully shot and entirely in SF. What was the idea behind it?
NR: The song itself is about escaping responsibility. Running away from problems and leaving people behind in the aftermath to deal with your messes. Our band has always been in San Francisco so we based it here. It was fun to put the band in there as these sinister watchers. We wanted something that was very visual and that fit the mood of the song. In my mind it’s always at night, a little glossy, a little neon and it’s a city. We shot the final scene on Bernal and it was an amazing night.
Top Three Songs on your playlist:
The new Fresh & Onlys album, Long Slow Dance
JH: Can’t pick just one song, the whole thing’s amazing.
“Be my baby” by the Ronnettes
NR: The first time I heard it ws on the dirty dancing soundtrack as a kid. That initial beat has always stuck with me. Ask our drummer, I’m always trying to get him to play it and he’s like no. it’s just so impactful. Speaking of Terracur there’s a little bit of sort of nod to that song.
“County Line” by Cass McCombs
JH: To me it showcases what’s awesome about him. So understated about his melodies. So rewarding to listen to confidence, calm.
Your spirit animal?
NR: An owl. There’s a funny story that goes along with this. We were driving back from Santa Cruz on the 17 trying to get home for a good night’s sleep after having been on the road for a while. Of course, it was 3 AM and pouring buckets and we run out of gas. I had to wake the guys up and they have to push the van to the nearest gas station. Once we were back on the road, I was out of my mind but still had to drive. On tour, you don’t have your creature comforts every day. I was just losing it, just really tired and grumpy and then this giant white owl just flies at the van out of nowhere. I had to swerve to avoid it. It was such an awesome moment, and the owl was telling me to shut up and stop complaining. That I was so lucky to be on tour and doing what I love. It just really calmed me.
JH: She’s also really wise. I’s be Lupis wolf/dog situation. It’s just a feeling I’ve got. That’s it. That’s all you get.
Social Studies release party, Friday Nov. 9, 9 p.m., $13, The Independent, 628 Divisadero Ave.