The Jealous Girlfriends’ frontwoman Holly Miranda is the classic heart-stopping Brooklyn chanteuse: a voice like honey-infused bourbon and a face that could launch a thousand fixed-gear bikes. Oh, and she knows her way around an electric guitar. Miranda started the Jealous Girlfriends with musician-producer Alex Lipsen in 2003, and since then has brought into the relationship drummer Mike Fadem and guitarist/vocalist Josh Abbott. They may be a New York band, but their sound has legs; CSI: Miami
, The L Word
, and Grey’s Anatomy
have all featured the band’s songs, and Holly and co. are about to go on tour with “Popular” kids Nada Surf to promote the launch of their self-titled album in May. We played e-mail tag with Miranda as she drifted from Berlin to Dresden on a solo tour, and she expounded on new music, the universality of envy, and how to get the best cheap coffee in Williamsburg (hint: be in a band with the barista).First thing’s first: the band name. What’s the story there—Are you the jealous type?
Once upon a time, my best friend had a very possessive girlfriend who was convinced that something was going on between my friend and me… At the time, the band (Alex and I) was trying to come up with a good name. I made a passing and very passive joke one evening in front of the girlfriend that perhaps we should call the band “The Jealous Girlfriends”—and it stuck. I think we have all been jealous girlfriends at one point or another, regardless of gender. It’s a universal feeling.The Jealous Girlfriends have been hailed as “one of the best new bands in New York” by that arbiter of indie culture, The New York Times. Who else, in your mind, stands out among your fellow Big-Apple up-and-comers?
There is so much great music coming out of Brooklyn right now and has been for a while. Currently, I would have to say Ludlow Lions, Sam Champion, AA Bondy, Kevin Devine, Scott Matthew, Abandoned Lighthouse, Pink Noise, A Place To Bury Strangers, Coin Under Tongue, Kaki King, and of course Joan As Policewoman!While we're talking about New York, let's hear about your neighborhood. Where do you live, and what's your favorite spot in your area?
I live in Williamsburg (shocking!) like everyone else in Brooklyn who is in a band. I like to refer to it as ‘campus,’ since you can’t walk down a street without seeing five people you know. My favorite place for coffee is, of course, Oslo! Mike and Josh both work there when we’re home, so I usually get a nice discount! There are so many different sounds on this album, none of them predictable or even necessarily compatible, but you make it all work. So, the obligatory question of influences: Who was on your playlist while you were writing/recording? Who’s your biggest inspiration?
One record that we all adore is Blur’s Think Tank
! Personally I am a huge fan of Edith Piaf, Jeff Buckley, Celebration, Al Green, The Beach Boys, Bjork, Caetano Veloso, David Byrne… Plus, I grew up between Detroit and Nashville, so there are the whole Motown and Old Country influences too (i.e. Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, Tammy Wynette). But really, I think what made music so sacred for me is that I was raised in a super-religious home (we’re talking Pentecostal, rolling-on-the-floor and speaking-in-tongues kind of stuff) and secular music wasn’t really allowed. So I had to sneak to hear music. It was dangerous and I was rebellious, that definitely helped. You write and record your own solo stuff as well—how do you divide yourself between the two? What makes a song a “Jealous Girlfriends” tune over a “Holly Miranda” one?
Sometimes they overlap. It’s not always so clear. But I think that once I release my solo record officially [in 2009] it will be obvious that the music is very different. But both are equally important to me.