Odwalla88

"What happens when we’re saying those things together is an exciting part about doing this together rather than just one person."
Interview by Brendan Fowler 

Whether or not you have seen or heard Chloe Maratta and Flannery Silvaperform, I don't think Odwalla88 needs an introduction or explanation. It is so realized as a set and treatment of statements, built into Odwalla88 is it's own introduction that I believe functions best on it’s own.I will say this, though, which is that they were sort of loosely explained to me and I was incredibly excited to see them play, but I was still unprepared for how intense they are live. Following the show I thought a lot about what I saw and worried that they could not be recorded in a way that could function anywhere near the level of the live performance. But as you will hear them say, they love bootlegs and it seems as well that the format of a coarse live recording really loves them back. Circa 2014 we are living in a time of so much retro-reference and I am constantly surprised by how little people seem to care about doing things— especially in music — that have already been done. Odwalla88 is that very very rare new thing that would be new in any time. It's something that I didn't see coming and I am still surprised and challenged and riled by with every recorded listening and live witnessing. You can look for documentation and live occasions here and here and look for new releases from them here and here soon.

Brendan:I have to say as a preamble, I was excited when the magazine asked me to interview you because I really like talking to you two and really like talking about your project,but I was reticent on some levels because I feel like Odwalla88, as it presents itself in the world, is it’s own well articulated statement, which is one of the things that I love so much about it. Spoiler alert: we are going to do an interview, but what do you think about the idea of talking about art like this?
Chloe: Fun.
Flannery: Well, I think in this situation I’m excited about it because we’re talking to you, and I feel like every time we’ve met up we haven’t really been able to hash it out, but we're psyched on each other, you know? So it feels like a very comfortable situation. But I think Chloe and I are always trying to describe to each other what this is and to other people, and that’s definitely been a challenge. And there’s a little bit of, not controversy, but there’s some sensitive subjects that come up. And that’s a challenge to talk about.
Chloe: To me it’s just like when we were in school and we’d be in a crit and everyone wanted to crack the code wide open about stuff, like, "what does this mean and how do we all know the truest meaning of it" and all of the things that maybe are supposed to stay hidden about it. But I love being in conversation with friends and people who make things, too, so it’s a yin and yang.
Flannery: Making music, it’s new, it’s new for me, I guess for both of us, because it is less visual, it’s more words, we're talking atyou.

Odwalla 88, Bernard Herman Presents, 2014

Brendan: Yeah!
Chloe: Yeah, in Odwalla we are screaming at you, rather. But music doesn’t do the same thing, I don’t think, where it’s like you have to know a conceptual reasoning.
Brendan: Odwalla88 certainly functions as a fairly direct address, I feel like, but the parts that are less direct or the parts that are more kind of gestural or something I feel like are that way in a really considered way. So I guess that’s the thing, my interest is not in cracking the code, as it were, my interest is very much in preserving and celebrating the code that is Odwalla88.
Chloe: But I don’t think this is going to be the type of interview where you’ll be like "what does it mean to surf the wave?" you know?
Brendan: Well, that was actually my next question, so, but really, when did it start?
Flannery: I got a package in the mail, but I didn’t order anything, and it was the First Act Electronic Drum Pad -
Chloe: - that we don’t use it anymore. We bought it and we only used it at our first and second show, but it doesn’t have an output. It’s shaped like a foot, it's for a little kid, and it has little toes.
Brendan: Really?
Flannery: We just want you to visualize it.
Brendan: Okay.
Chloe: But it didn’t have an output so I asked someone who I thought was really good at electronics to solder an output into it, but it feeds back really bad, the whole time there’s this noise when it’s plugged into the PA. But I bought that for Flan so she would be in a band with me because I had been doing my solo thing, Sissa, for about year, and I was like, this is not that hard, we should be in a band together. Because I was just doing vocal stuff, just a microphone, and I was, like, we should make some noise, some sounds, together. That was about a year ago. Our first show was at Floristree with this band, Needle Gun, and —
Flannery: We sat on the stage, we didn’t stand.
Chloe: Yeah, we sat down, which was weird.
Flannery: We were comfortable but weird.
Chloe: Yeah, very weird. I stood up for one song.

Still from Her Greatest Unreleased Track, 2014

Brendan: Wait, Flannery, how long did it take you to figure out that Chloe had sent you the drum pad?
Flannery: It was towards the last weeks of school, and I opened it and-, we were in the same room and I opened it. So it was like, it was cute, it was a very cute moment.
Chloe: She was so confused about what it was.
Flannery: Yeah, yeah.
Brendan: Were you like, "It is a foot"?
Flannery: Yeah. “What does this mean?”
Brendan: So the first instrumentation idea was percussion?
Chloe: Yeah, our first show we used that drum pad and then we put some loops together in Garage Band, which was in a similar way to maybe how we use the our sampler now. So yeah, I guess the first thought was percussion. It was like, I want to bang on a drum pad. But we didn’t even play it with sticks, we just played it by hand.
Flannery: And it was all the sounds that were within the foot, so it was kind of silly.
Chloe: Yeah, but I liked the cop car sound.
Flannery: Yeah, I liked that one. A couple of them were harsh. Or harsh enough.
Chloe: Only it sounded even harsher because it was amplified through the P.A.
Brendan: So this question feels a little bit code orientated, but do you see it as a band or as a performance? I have my own feelings about that kind of stuff from my own trip, but how do you see Odwalla88?
Chloe: I think we see ourselves in the grand tradition of being in a band but not knowing how to play your instrument. Or not having great musical craft. But we would never play perfectly tuned bass through a pedal, you know?
Flannery: Yeah. But I think we’ve grown more into feeling like a band, because of having a list of songs that we play together, but, mmmm...
Brendan: I guess what I really am asking is you two both being artists and having your own art practices, what led you to wanting to do a project in the genre of "band"?
Chloe: Yeah, so you mean like playing alongside bands?
Brendan:Exactly, entering into that context as opposed to or in addition to any other context?
Flannery: I think for both of us what comes first is the words, for sure. I have always been writing poems or lyrics, so I think for me it felt like more of an accessible way to present that.
Chloe: Which is why we get called a poetry band.
Flannery: Yeah, which is —but yeah, I mean, we always talk about just wanting to make the music we want to hear, so I think that's the root of it.

Odwalla 88, Floristree, 2014

Chloe: I feel like, also, I was going to a lot of shows that were all boy shows, bands would be all guys, and I would always be, like, I could never be in a band. But then after Sissa, the thing by myself—it sounds so, uhm, corny to call it my "solo project," but by doing that I was, like, we could definitely be in a band. It was almost like by performing by myself with just a microphone—I don’t want to keep using this metaphor of cracking the code, but it was like I cracked the code and it was all of a sudden apparent to me that we could just do it because people on stage weren’t doing anything super magic, or super hard.
Flannery: Yeah. It doesn’t have rules.
Brendan: It doesn’t have rules, it’s true. Though I actually think that aside from you two and of course some other people, that right now is a really extra conservative time in music, and especially in underground music in a lot of ways, but that's a whole other thing. You two both just graduated from art school since the band has been happening?
Chloe: We played our first show two weeks before we graduated.
Brendan: And Baltimore has a wonderful community that I think has a lot to do with the Maryland Institute of Art and people coming in from all over the place to go there and because it's inexpensive to live there and make work and makeitwork.
Chloe: The Baltimore community, there’s so many rad and amazing people who live here that are really inspiring to me — I want to say a shout out to everyone who lives at Floristree— and I think in terms of support it’s been very positive. After the kind of weird first show that was just us feeling out what it was like to write songs, or how do we put sounds behind the words —
Flannery: I think the reaction was like, "What was that?" And then there were a couple of people that were starting to describe it in a really sincere way. Max Eilbacher was one of those people, and then our next show was at his house, at The Bank in Baltimore. But yeah, overall, both for Odwalla and visual art it’s a very nurturing place to be. Very open. So yeah, in terms of Odwalla’s home it’s been really rad.
Chloe: And there’s space to be a band or a project that performs. People will ask you to play at their house, even if you played a really weird show. And there's space to work on songs, like, "we've got to work on this stuff for the next show, let’s write all new songs." There’s space to be nurtured and space to grow.
Brendan: And as a literal physical space, you two do a store with yourother friend Max, Max Guy, too.
Chloe: Yeah, Rock 512 Devil is a project space/bookstore/gallery/clubhouse. There’s a book club that meets there. It’s always changing and we’re supposed to have hours and sometimes it’s not open and then sometimes it’s open every weekend for a few months. Flannery created this ASMR night of videos and performances, and she put together this reading ofThe Glass Menagerie. It is a small storefront, but both times it was totally packed.

Odwalla 88, Silent Barn, 2014 (Photo: Vinnie Smith)

Flannery: It was cozy.
It’s not that small, I was surprised how big it was.
Flannery: ForThe Glass Menagerie we used the windowsills as the stage, so it’s very make-shift in a Baltimore way.
Chloe: But I don’t know a lot of other cities where I could afford a storefront one block away from me and not have some crazy profitable business running out of it. It’s special.
Flannery: Yeah, that’s very telling of where Baltimore is at.
Brendan: In another city it might have to be a really crazy teeny space if it were even possible at all. I wanted to pose this idea to you, though, I have been really thinking a lot about this idea of a sincerity spectrum, which I haven’t not heard of classified as such, so the way I want to lay it out is on the one end if you picture totally sincere, literal, transparent, heart on sleeve, like, "honesty," and then on the other end picture deception, maybe which even has sort of a malicious, nefarious connotation. I feel like often people tend to polarize, you know, segregate things into either totally sincere or totally in sincere and dishonest. But in the middle somewhere I feel like exists this space of inter-sincerity or intra-sincerity, a spectrum between the two polarities that many things actually fall in. This is kind of a funny example, because we are in the middle of an interview, but I find an example of this could be when a sentiment is "real" — sincere — but the context in which it is presented may not be totally "real." Like, imagine an interview or something where the answers are really real and sincere but maybe the questions weren’t actually ever asked or the whole thing was written by one person, so the final product serves to convey sincere feelings, "truths," but the presentation is itself a fictionalization of an event that never actually happened. You know what I mean?
Flannery: You mean like also the delivery of that?
Brendan: Yeah, and I use that example just to set up the idea of this spectrum because I feel like it is kind of clear, but sometimes I think that things which may exist within this spectrum point less overtly to their place on the spectrum. I wanted to set that up because I think it’s really interesting the way I perceive you to play around in it. I’ve had this conversation about Odwalla88 regarding the instances where you’ll quote or you’ll reference things and it’s kind of unclear, it could maybe be sarcastic? I don’t think you’re using sarcasm in a mean-spirited way or a super cynical way at all, which are ends to which sarcasm is often used, but sometimes you will say things that kind of have already sort of an attached cultural baggage, but in a way that recontextualizes them.
Flannery: Yeah, totally. Max, our 512 partner, the last time he saw us he was like, "You guys are so sarcastic." I was like, "Hey! ... Okay, I’ll let that soak in.”
Chloe: It’s the delivery.

From Sex Magazine #8 Summer 2014
Labelled Music