Saturday, March 29, 2008

Heloise and The Savior Faire

Coming straight out of Brooklyn, HELOISE & THE SAVOIR FAIRE know a thing or two about dance, fashion, sex and the time-tested formula for dance pop. The band’s debut LP, Trash, Rats and Microphones, will be released in late April on Elijah Wood’s Simian Records. The band is fronted by the charismatic Heloise Williams and backed by two electrifying dancers (Joe Shepard and Sara Sweet Rabidoux) as well as a full band (James Bellizia on guitar, Luke Hughett on drums and Jason Diamond on bass). The group just returned from South by Southwest in Austin TX and they continue to build the buzz surrounding their frantic live show that includes costumes, choreography and more than a healthy dose of attitude. And if that wasn’t enough to catch your ear, their album also features two guest appearances from Debbie Harry. Yes, that Debbie Harry. We caught up with Heloise for a quick interview and this is what she had to say...

LC and F: The new album is called “Trash, Rats & Microphones.” What does that mean?

Heloise: The title (pretty much) came from a description of my surroundings within my tiny tenement style apartment that I shared with my sister in Manhattan while I was writing the album. We didn’t have rats exactly but definitely lots of mice that I would make my sister battle. I was TERRIFIED!!! And certainly there is plenty of trash in the city. TRM is also the name of a song I wrote that’s about how I (at least) have to filter my world when I’m trying to create something. I’m easily distracted.

LC and F: How would you describe your sound and live show and what should people know before they see you live for the first time?

Heloise: I would say that our goal is to look and taste like candy but to satisfy like a meal of meat (or meat substitute) and potatoes (or something else delicious and nutritious). We are into dance music and 70’s rock. There are a ton of costume changes and a lot of makeup. We really try to keep it interesting for ourselves and hopefully for the audience as well. We like to improvise aesthetically. Humor and heart are incredibly important to us. We want everyone to feel like they are in on the fun. If they want to have fun because they certainly don’t have to . . . We are never going to make people “put their hands together” or do the whole dividing the crowd into sing along type things. I’m trembling with the cheesy chills, right now.

LC and F: You all just got back from SxSW. What was your favorite moment in Austin this year?

Heloise: Well the Bust magazine party was definitely our most opulent moment but then afterwards we played a weirdo pool party at this housing complex (the Metropolis in Austin) where we were staying. AND, I have to say that that show maybe meant the most to us, emotionally. Our bass player was missing and we had to start the show so we were already stressed out and I was actually pretty pissed off. At first there were like 4 people there and then like rats they crawled out of their holes and we ended up having a “village” party. Our bass player showed up half way through the show and then things got even more awesome (because we could play a bunch more songs!!!!!). At the end of the night, after some band members had jumped in the pool and the nearly naked kid had been thrown off the stage, the gentleman who owned the place gave a speech and handed us the keys to the city (Metropolis city), so to speak, and there were tears EVEN (not from me – although I cry constantly). It was like an after school special for people getting out of prison or something. It was great.

L and F: We like Debbie Harry and Debbie Harry likes you. How did you all meet her and how did you get her involved in the album?

Heloise: Pinch me. Oh it’s true!!!! Debbie came to a show a couple of years ago. We were opening for our friend (and hers) Miss Guy at Knitting Factory and she asked to be introduced to me after the show. Thinking about it now, it was probably a set-up. My friend Todd Thomas who introduced us said she wanted to meet me but maybe he was just being nice. Regardless, she asked me for my autograph (she has a good sense of humor) and I nearly threw-up. We’ve been pals ever since.

L and F: How did you all link up with Elijah Wood and his label, Simian Records?

Heloise: I met Elijah through my dear friend Pamela Racine (from Gogol Bordello). Pam and I were roommates when we both lived in Vermont. Elijah came to see a show and was apparently taken with it. One night, I was chatting with Elijah and Pam, actually it was more like crying about how intimidated I am by business speak and record deals gone sour. As I was finishing up Elijah said, “Hey! Why don’t I sign you to my record label.” Of course, this was the first I’d heard of such a thing and the label didn’t REALLY exist at the time. But then the dream became reality and we are now signed to his label.

L and F: You all have a great look, and it looks like a good time! Who designs/puts together your stage costumes?

Heloise: Hmmmmm that’s a very good question. Sometimes we get help from a professional like Todd Thomas, designer extraordinaire. Mostly, we just rat it out of the trash or Sara goes to the Salvation Army or the Fulton Mall for teen fashions or Joe will cut a piece of fake fur into a wig shape and glue it to his head. I used to make the dancers’ costumes but they always sort of fussed too much and/or would lose some essential piece of the costume – like a gladiator skirt. So now I just leave it up to them. We do it by colors and there is usually a costume change. So we’ll say: turquoise hookers into black and whites or Islamics (just the name of a look) into gold bikinis.

L and F: Who comes up with the fierce dance moves?

Heloise: It’s a combined effort. Sara Sweet used to have her own dance company called Hoi Polloi out of Boston. They were totally awesome and would perform in Japan and stuff. Somehow . . . she got roped into doing this . . . and now she and Joe (her principal ballerina) make up the moves together. I TRY to remember the moves while I’m singing etc. but I’m telling you I don’t know how those pop stars do it. It’s hard work!!

L and F: When it comes to makeup and hair – are you all DIYer’s or divas with an entourage?

Heloise: Every 6 to 9 months, we luck out and have a friend do our hair for a special occasion like my friend Laura Williams (who we also have a costume named after because she’s so stylish and I also stole “cheesy chills” from her). But normally . . . we do it all ourselves.

L and F: Have you ever had a wardrobe malfunction onstage? Did it get applause?

Heloise: Yes definitely. Sara and Joe have “wardrobe malfunctions” almost every show. I would say that Sara’s “malfunctions” get the most cheers. Sorry, Joey!! At times, I have issues reigning in my boobs. There was a time – a sad time - (before the band and actually I don’t think that the dancers were at this show – I was alone!!!) I had a dress fall down on me (I was wearing a nearly grey strapless bra that was too small for me). It was disgusting to say the least but at least I wasn’t nude. But no one cheered. No one laughed. It was silent and then the lights went down and they closed the bar. As I was left there on the stage in the dark, I thought, “Is this what it means to be in SHOW BIZ????!!!!!!!!!!” And then I walked out into the streets and there was a sparkly parade and it was St. Patrick’s Day and a leprechaun gave me a pot of gold and I slid up the rainbow into another dimension. Au revoir world!! AU REVOIR!!! I cried!! (that was a dramatic reinterpretation of events that maybe did or didn’t really happen). :)
sorry I’m obviously getting carried away!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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