Julia: Hi, I'm Julia and I'm the vocalist.
Leon: Hi, I'm Leon and I'm the guitarist.
James: Hi, I'm James and I play drums.
Julia hails from Romania.
Julia: Yeah, I do. I came to the United States two years ago and I like it very much.
Why did you decide to move to the United States and what did you hope to do when you got here?
Julia: We had a chance to go to the United States so I had this chance to be here. My parents are here. Basically my whole family is here. I've pursued music since I was age five. Of course I'm following my dream.
How did you guys get together?
Leon: Our story is pretty interesting. We found everybody by chance actually. Chris the bass player and myself met a couple of years ago in the restaurant scene in New York City like a lot of musicians do. We found each other there and we kept writing and slowly we built the pieces but we were very picky. We didn't want to settle for anything else and finding James was amazing. Finding Julia will put us over the top. She's amazing and we're all happy to be with each other.
You guys out your debut EP which is called Ana. Tell me a little about it.
Julia: One of the songs, the title track, is based on a legend that comes from Romania. It's basically about a woman who was killed by her lover. She was sacrificed because this is what he was dreaming of one night. We're basically choosing that one because first of all it's very feminine and very easy to remember. That's one of the songs that people respond to a lot at our concerts. The other side of it, it's basically what we wanted to have as a release.
Leon: It basically summarizes the band. It's a very progressive song. It has a lot of elements that we want to use throughout our future in music. We touch upon a lot of things that we really care about in our music.
I noticed in your bio how the lyrics with Julia explore the insecurities of rediscovering oneself in America.
Leon: We knew that was going to catch some people.
It's interesting to me when people come over here to get their view of what they think life is like here or what their lives are like here.
Julia: When I first came my English wasn't that good. I had a very long audition process. Everybody was like "your voice is awesome but you basically cannot communicate with the public." I started being very ambitious and started learning English and asking everybody to correct me as much as they can. Now I can really give an interview and I'm really happy. The public really loves the way I talk and probably one of the biggest reasons we're called Me Talk Pretty is because my English is the way it is. What can I say? My band mates really helped me so much and they're very proud of me and I'm very proud of them too. Finally after almost two years after I've been out singing really heavily, I really found them. Then life wasn't that bad after that as much as a lot of the bands after that which weren't really that good so that I could say yes, I will work with you. With as much as the bands that really said okay we can work together, I really thought this is the right one. I really liked it and I think it was a very, very good choice.
James: It was interesting to watch Julia's growth. I've know Julia for a little over a year. I joined the band a little over a year ago and I couldn't understand a word that Julia was trying to get across when I first met her. Her English was very poor and it's amazing how far she's come in the last year in terms of her speaking. It's pretty amazing and how hard she worked to learn the language.
Julia: I had really, really big help so what can I say?
Leon: Angela, I know we're going to be releasing a book of Julia's misnomers pretty soon.
Julia will find in time that she speaks better English than a lot of people whose only language is English.
Leon: Absolutely. This is one of her biggest motivations. We always keep reminding her and we don't even have to remind her. Even here in New York City which is the middle of the world, she sees that her English is actually pretty superior to a lot of people who come here who don't even speak.
Julia: My big confidence is the fact that I got to the point where people can really understand my lyrics and I really am very ambitious in taking care of my lyrics the way I feel. That's my biggest happiness ever because people do tell me they really feel what I'm saying. They really feel that's true or something like that. That's amazing because basically I'm using a second language to address myself to people and they do understand. There is no bigger happiness inside more than that. I'm really happy. I'm pretty much ecstatic.
I think that's awesome. There's a fusion of subtle Middle Eastern melodies and progressive rock in your music. Why did you decide to combine those two?
Leon: I'm the guilty one for that one. I am half Moroccan and half Spanish. I was born in Madrid in Spain. Most of my family is from either Morocco or from Spain so I was born into that culture. I grew up listening to a lot of Eastern music, particularly Middle Eastern music and a lot of rock at the same time. My father was a very big influence on the music that he introduced me to and it was always mixed between those two things. When I started playing and when you're always listening to that kind stuff, it naturally comes out of you little by little. Me and Julia exploited what I had to offer from that because she also comes from an Eastern background. Romania in Eastern Europe. Those cultures are very similar. She'll elaborate on that.
Julia: Yeah, we have a lot of Middle Eastern influences and I really brought that to the table. That's a very untouched plate because basically the place I come from is very mystic for me and very different. That definitely has a big impact in our sound and we want to keep it just because it's natural and it's nothing that we were looking for. It just happened to be like that and it's who we are. Maybe the next album is going to sound different because we sound different but at this point it is what we sound like and we're very proud of it.
I think it's wonderful you guys do that. There's absolutely nothing wrong with being introduced to other cultures. When you get a taste of people's music and how they view things, then you actually start to understand other people's cultures. That's something we definitely need to do.
Julia: Thank you very much. We never forget that everything has got to be in adhesion in an American context. Basically at this point we are somewhere between American and whatever place we are coming from. We never forget that.
That is totally awesome. If you could list three songs on here that you really feel describe your band the best, what three songs would they be?
Leon: That's very difficult for us. We're very proud of the entire album. I guess how we would like to summarize our album is probably the title track "Ana", followed by the second track of our EP "Letter", and the third one is very relative depending on the mood whether we're feeling a little bit angry or a little bit sad. Or happy for that matter is what we like. The first track usually takes the vote which is "Illusion". Those three we're very proud of but we're proud of the entire album as well.
As well you should be because it's a very beautiful record.
Julia: Thank you. One thing I very much want to add on in the concert because it's a really intense song and most of them know what the lyrics mean, as a listener if you take it at home, a lot of people respond to "Letter". I guess like Leon said, it really depends on what mood you are in, what you felt that day, and all your experiences during the week or whatever you felt.
You guys have been playing at various clubs and whatnot. Are you guys thinking about doing some kind of touring?
Leon: Absolutely. That's been definitely in our agenda. Currently we've just been doing a residency at an amazing club in New York City called Arlene's Grocery. It's a great club and we were welcomed very much so from the people and everything. We've played a handful of clubs in New York City like Don Hill's. Places in Brooklyn like North Six. The Knitting Factory in Manhattan as well. Next month we're doing our CD release party at Snitch and that is a club that is owned by Brett Scallions and Duff from Guns N' Roses and Scott Weiland from Stone Temple Pilots.
Julia: In other words, that's a very hot club. We are really happy because we are going to have our party and it's going to be crazy actually. We already know that.
Leon: We're absolutely thinking and definitely in the planning stages right now for a tour. We're pretty new and we're harnessing what the public thinks. In different areas of the United States rock is accepted. It's hot or cold depending on where you are. We've learned that so we're definitely trying to see where all the best scenes are.
I think people are kind of hungry for something a bit different.
Leon: I absolutely agree with you.
Julia: We think so. We hope so.
I love all types of metal and rock. At the end of the day I can get burned out on one genre of rock or one genre of metal so it's always nice to have different shit hitting me.
Leon: I agree with you. It was really cool that you said that because the cool thing about our record is the assistant producer, the guy who co-produced our album and he was the engineer and the mixing engineer as well, comes from a background of all sorts of rock. We did it at Big Blue Meenie in New Jersey and the co-producer was Arun Venkatesh and he's been doing a lot of huge records. Bands like Thursday, Taking Back Sunday, that's pretty big in the emo scene right now. He brought a lot to the table and helped us out to combine and compete with what's out there. On the record we love to show a lot of emotion and state a lot of faces of emotion. It's got a lot of humorous moments, a lot of dark moments, and a lot of intricate progressive and playful parts.
Julia: We are a very intense band and I'm not going to stop saying that because this is true. Even our lives at home, no matter where it is and no matter how many people are there, we are very intense and very honest and people just love that. They are wanting it and they feel like they are part of something because truly something happens on the stage. It's not just a band but some people could do things different and we are pretty much into raw energy and sometimes we are very quirky. That's nice. That's good.
When you go to a live a show, there needs to be some kind of chemistry and some kind of connection where people are actually putting on a show. What a lot of people are getting tired of is paying to go to a show where four or five people are just standing there.
Leon: You're absolutely correct about the chemistry and the connection. What has helped us is the fact that we all live together so there is a natural chemistry that we bring to the live stage. A lot of times you don't see any performances. The music is great but a lot of the players are playing by themselves. They don't play with the band.
Yeah, they're in their own world.
Leon: Exactly and what we have unintentionally done or intentionally, whatever it may be, that we live together so we know each other inside out. We know what we like. We know what we don't like. What pisses us off and what makes us happy. We try to reproduce that live on stage so that's what Julia was talking about. There's a lot of natural raw honesty going on, on stage because we don't want to hide anything. Even though it's a show, it's not a performance.
I think if you believe in your music and you believe in what you're doing and you believe in your artistic expression, that's going to show through and people are going to respond more to that. I wish you guys a lot of success and I hope you guys make it down to Texas sometime. Any other thoughts or comments?
Leon: Thank you so much. We absolutely look forward to playing in Texas. We've heard a lot of great things about the music scene down there. Pick up our album. We're very proud of it. It sounds great. Looks great. Check out our MySpace site. We hope to meet every one of you guys.
Me Talk Pretty