SALES, an independent Florida-based duo, is “v” special – band members Lauren Morgan and Jordan Shih already have several self-releases under their belt (2014 EP “SALES” and new singles,ivy and jamz), and have been named the “Ones to Watch” by The Hype Machine. Swamp Records agrees, and we had the opportunity to interview Lauren, SALES’ guitar and vocals. We discuss their collaborations with artist Alana Questell and producer XXYYXX, the experiences behind their creative content, and the duo’s friendship.
SWAMP RECORDS: Let’s talk graphics. What attracted you to Alana Questell’s work/how did that collaboration come about? How do you feel that her aesthetic represents your music?
LAUREN: We met Alana through our friend Guillermo. We work with both of them on every facet of the project. Alana has created a series for all of our music, it will culminate with our self-released album which is coming out on 4/20. I think our aesthetics are complimentary– both are minimal, incisive, nostalgic, and open to interpretation.
SWAMP RECORDS: You guys are already so successful, being named the “Ones to Watch” by the Hype Machine. What are your future ambitions? Any other cool new video series in store?
LAUREN: We have been flying by the seat of our pants since the release of our first single, “renee.” We are just making music because it is what we love to do– we like listening to it. There are no expectations. We have started to take things a little more seriously and do operate the band as a small business. We will take this project as far as we can.
As far as future videos go, sure we’d love to put out more videos. We were very lucky to get to work with Josef Lorenzo (http://joseflorenzo.com/), he does great work. We’ve been primarily focused on touring, and the release of our album.
SWAMP RECORDS: What influences the content of your music?
LAUREN: Whatever comes to mind any given day. A lot of the lyrics are ad-libbed and elaborated on. We are always listening to the bands we perform with, our contemporaries, getting down with Limp Bizkit or Mariah Carey on youtube. Our taste is pretty indiscriminate.
SWAMP RECORDS: Any particular reason why many of your song titles are in lowercase?
LAUREN: It is a stylistic decision, just remaining consistent.
SWAMP RECORDS: Best/hardest part of working out of Orlando? It’s also super awesome that you guys have a remix with fellow Orlando musician XXYYXX - what was that like?
LAUREN: Working out of Orlando is lovely. We are from here and live out in the suburbs. It is very easy to focus out here. We don’t go out. On any given night we are working on music, or prepping packages, rehearsing, optimizing the website, trying to figure out Google (we want to have an accurate Knowledge Graph), responding to emails, finding support for our gigs, optimizing our live set-up, or enjoying a tennis match.
The not so great side of making music in Orlando is that you are not a part of the big scene like you would be a part of in Brooklyn, for example. We are definitely outsiders.
Marcel (aka XXYYXX) is a friend of Jordan’s from when he was also a solo electronic producer (JSHIH https://soundcloud.com/jshih). It was really wonderful of him to agree to do a remix for us. To have a friend, also from Orlando, on the EP, felt like a good fit.
SWAMP RECORDS: What artists are you listening to right now?
LAUREN: Jordan and I listen to a lot of music separately and together. Musically we come from opposite ends of the spectrum. Jordan really got me onto electronic music (and it was a battle). Collectively we are listening to Tame Impala’s latest, Currents. We are also listening to Kevin Gates, Kanye, and Jazz Cartier. Sometimes Jordan slips in Smash Mouth or (the aforementioned) LIMP BIZKIT. Sometimes it really pumps us up to watch the video “You Get What You Give” by New Radicals (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DL7-CKirWZE). On our European tour we listened to Visions, St Vincent, Melody’s Echo Chamber, Currents, America (Dan Deacon), Swisha House, and German elecro-pop. Also, the radio is better on the West Coast.
SWAMP RECORDS: Elvis Presley or The Beatles, and why?
LAUREN: Are they comparable? They are from different times. Elvis is okay, a general purpose hunk. As far as the Beatles go, we admire the span of their song writing.
SWAMP RECORDS: Who is “big sis”/tell us more about her? Who is Renee?
LAUREN: I have two younger brothers, for me, “big sis” is about gender roles within a family. As my brothers matured, they gravitated to each other because they are men and have a strong idea of what that means. They will always have their “manness” in common. For me, I feel like an outsider. I’ve always felt uncomfortable within gender roles. And it was hard to explain. Growing-up I always thought, “one day I will want to do the things other girls do.” You would never catch me in the pink toy isle (unless it was to keep up appearances or stay open minded), although I’ve enjoyed playing with Barbies (so have my brothers). I liked to throw some G.I. Joes into the mix. What’s the deal?
Renee is a cool person we met at a bar. She asked to sit with us and really danced through all that strangeness between strangers. We admired her. The whole story is on our video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pauai_05Vxo.
SWAMP RECORDS: Being friends before you guys formed SALES, how did that help you succeed with your music? How do you overcome disagreements, if any?
LAUREN: Being in a band is challenging. SALES is an equal collaboration. Jordan in particular is used to working by himself. We’ve had plenty of arguments, but the point is that we eventually cool off and hear each other out. We talk about everything. Whether or not we agree or disagree, we understand each other. You don’t just master communication, it is an infinite process of self-awareness, empathy and humility.
SWAMP RECORDS: You guys have a very dreamy and stripped down sound. Do you guys see yourself switching up your style in the next project or introducing other instruments?
LAUREN: In our album we are occasionally using synth, and including more bass. We are confined by our equipment/budget/setup, but are always experimenting and trying to achieve a bigger sound. We want everything we do to be on purpose. If you hear crickets in “renee,” it’s because we recorded with the window open.
SWAMP RECORDS: How do you and Jordan go through the process of making a new song together? I know you do a lot of improv, why do you prefer that?
LAUREN: As far as improv goes, we like to capture our raw ideas, and expand upon them. Jordan and I both alternate on taking the lead on a song, and compliment each other throughout the process. Jordan has a talent for drums and arrangement. I also admire his guitar playing style in contrast to mine.
SWAMP RECORDS: Are you excited for Swamp Showcase!?
LAUREN: We are excited! Last time we were in Gainesville, we got to open for Hundred Waters and Gems. It is our first time playing Swamp Showcase and are looking forward to returning to Gainesville.
photo credit: josef lorenzo from SALES from 12 to 12
Catch SALES headlining Swamp Showcase this Friday, AND keep your eyes (or ears) peeled for their self-released album coming out on 4/20, wink wink.
Listen to their “jamz” here:
And stay connected here:
This article was originally published online at the Swamp Records blog.