Interview: Supercute!Posted: November 13, 2012
Supercute! is a band from Brooklyn, NY composed of members Rachel Trachtenburg, Julia Cumming, Olivia Ferrer, and Jacqueline Russo. Supercute! started in 2009 and have since released an EP and toured twice with singer-songwriter Kate Nash. I’ve had the honor of playing tons of shows with Supercute! over the past few years and was so excited to meet Rachel and Julia for milkshakes a few weeks ago to ask them some questions.
How did you meet and start playing together?
Julia: My dad used to play bass for Rachel’s dad so we used to hang out when we were younger. Then when Rachel was fifteen, she asked me if I wanted to play in a band with her. So I asked my friend June if she wanted to join and we all started playing music together. And it’s been like that since 2009!
How would you describe your music?
Rachel: We call it psychedelic-indie-bubblegum.
You have such a unique sound. What are your influences?
Rachel: Julia and I are both very influenced by our parents’ tastes, we both grew up with a lot of classic rock, psychedelic, and glam. So we’re definitely inspired by stuff from the past. But we’re also really influenced by things that are happening in New York with local artists.
Julia: I think we’ve really stuck with the original idea of the band while letting it grow, too. Like, we’ve kept the ukuleles, but turned them into a more respected instrument and tool for songwriting. All of that adds to the sound we’ve created.
What is the response generally like to your music?
Julia: It really depends, it’s very mixed.
Rachel: Yeah, like we have super fans and then people who think we’re a joke.
Are there any trends you’ve noticed?
Julia: Well it can be a lot of…
Rachel: Don’t say 50 year old men.
Julia: Yeah, I was going to say creepy old dudes (laughing).
Rachel: It has a wide range, from 2 year olds to like, 80 year olds. But mostly I think it’s stoned out college kids, those are the real fans.
Julia: Yeah, cause they can kind of get into the weirdness and understand all the different levels.
Rachel: And they get the dorkiness.
What’s been your favorite experience as a band?
Rachel: I think the Kate Nash tour was my favorite. We toured twelve countries in Europe with her on a double-decker tour bus. That was a total dream. We played for anywhere from 500 to 3000 people.
Julia: Whenever we get articles that’s really great too, cause you know you’re reaching a lot of cool people.
Rachel: Yeah, we’ve had big features in Bust, Nylon, and the Times, and those are really exciting.
Julia: But every show is really just great. We’ve played a lot of different kinds of shows. For a while we were in the comedy circuit, when we were writing more theatrical songs. We became friends with Jeff Garlin and some really cool comedians that were doing shows here.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a band?
Rachel: Being in a band (laughs). You know, being in a band as a teenage girl can be tough sometimes.
Julia: Yeah. When June left the band, that was really hard. There were just so many layers of confusion and sadness. But Rachel and I really pulled it together to stick with our dreams for the band. But it was hard, losing a friend like that, who we haven’t been able to stay in touch with. And also just balancing life can be hard. But we get better at that as time goes on.
Rachel: We’ve had some big bumps in the road but I think that’s a struggle that every band goes through where you just become like a family. You know, you’re pursuing creative career paths and growing different ways but you’re still best friends. You get so emotionally invested.
Julia: It’s like, the love is unconditional, but you have to keep figuring out how to grow and work with it.
You said before that it’s hard to be a teenage girl in a band, why is that?
Rachel: Well, it’s just hard to be a teenage girl. (laughs).
Julia: That’s how I felt when I saw the teenage girls in the Olympics and they have all these cameras in their faces and every moment is on them and it’s just hard enough to be 17 and then to be in front of the whole world… to make yourself an object of ridicule…
Rachel: Or like when you write a song and by the time it comes out you’re so beyond that. Like our song, “Not to Write About Boys”– songs that we put so much love into but then you hear it a few months later and you’re just like, “ew”.
Julia: It’s like, everyone says that kids should stop being so lazy and then you put something out there and get ridiculed for it. But at the same time you know you’re doing something really special and cool.
Rachel: Yeah, it always pays off once you’re onstage. All the booking shows and dealing with all that stuff, being on stage makes everything worth it.
Why don’t you like your song “Not To Write About Boys” anymore?
Rachel: I wish that song had never been written.
Julia: It got us a lot of things, put us on the map in a lot of different ways. And I guess it’s not a bad song…
Rachel: It captures that moment.
Julia: Yeah, that’s what’s important. It’s just about realizing like, this is what was going on then and now that’s not going on anymore, and that’s ok. Making peace with your silliness.
What are the goals of your band?
Rachel: To be touring a lot. Just to travel and see the world and show our art to people, that’s the goal. But there’s school and there’s parents, there are things that hold us back in certain ways. We just want to grow as artists and develop a fan base that’ll stick with us as individuals as we move forward.
Julia: To be able to make cool art together and live a cool life of doing amazing things for yourself and for the world.
Would you identify your band as feminist?
Rachel: That’s a very complicated question.
Julia: We consider ourselves a politically active band and we think about a lot of different causes.
Rachel: We want every song to have a deeper message, whether it’s about society or animal rights. Feminism is definitely something we think about a lot which comes up a lot for us.
It’s something I’ve thought a lot about for myself, whether to identify as a feminist musician or not, or if that takes away from what you’re doing in a certain way.
Rachel: Yeah, like I say that we’re a teen girl band every day, but does that detract from it? It shouldn’t matter.
Julia: Just by being a chick and putting yourself out there, people are going to expect certain things of you. It’s like, either you’re a feminist musician or you’re not. But it’s not just black and white.
Rachel: But we have played some really cool shows with feminist organizations, like Permanent Wave, and every time we get involved it’s really amazing and inspiring.
What are you guys working on right now?
Julia: Well, we recorded our first album last October, so a long time ago. We’ve been working on mixing it and getting it done as soon as possible, which has been delayed by a film project we’re working on.
Rachel: We’re also working on writing for our second album, which we’ll hopefully be working on with Stevie Moore whose like this low-fi veteran god. We’re huge fans.
Do you have any advice for young musicians?
Rachel: Just do it, and don’t look back. One of my favorite quotes is, “It’s better to be a has been than to be a never was.” So you just have to do it and have fun and know that it’s what you want to do.
Julia: Don’t apologize for it, or regret anything that’s made you the way that you are. Just take it, and make great art out of it.