Interview: Automatic at Levitation France

Interview by Lady Godiva

In June, I attended Levitation France in Angers, which is twinned with Austin, TX. It’s a smaller festival that incorporates a good selection of smaller local bands as well as up and coming and well established artists. This year’s edition was set outdoors at Le Chabada and we were mostly blessed with sunny weather. The most memorable sets were delivered by Kevin Morby and Kikagaku Moyo

While attending the festival, I had the opportunity to interview Automatic, an LA based three-piece that has been active since 2017. The band features Lola Dompė on drums, Izzy Glaudini on vocals/synth and Halle Saxon on bass. Their music is mostly post punk influenced, with other modern references. 
Their second record Excess came out on June, 24th. 

Lady Godiva: Addressing Lola Dompé: I know you come from a musical background but did you (Izzy and Halle) also grow up around music a lot?

Lola Dompé: My dad is in a band, Bauhaus and they’re currently touring. So, it was nice to be introduced to a lot of good music and my older sister played music, so I kinda fell into it.

Halle Saxon: I grew up in Austin, TX, which is a very musical city, so I saw a lot of live shows, a lot of festivals.

Izzy Glaudini: Yeah, same. Being a teenager, you go to shows and you get obsessed with music. It’s the natural way. It’s just natural being a fan of music, picking up an instrument for the first time, making that connection.

LG: So, how old were you when you started learning your first instrument?

Izzy: I played guitar, I still play it very badly, when I was about 15 or so, on and off but not really until I was 19 that I thought about being a musician in a real way.

LG: Were there any life changing bands for you or was it more being at a show and thinking, “Oh, this is what I wanna do”?

Halle: I feel like when I read the book Please Kill Me by Gillian Mc Cain & Legs McNeil… that was when I decided that I wanted to be in a band. I’ve always been a fan of music but I never thought I could do it, reading that book and how they just went on stage and did it, I felt really inspired by that, but I didn’t find these girls until years later.

LG: Do you remember the first record you bought?

Lola: Mine was The StrokesIs This It? I was in middle school, so I was probably 13.

LG: I really like the satire in your new single. I find there is not a lot of that in music these days. Although we live in strange and sour times when everyone is obsessed with materialism, I don’t hear many records that deal with the topic. Do you agree with that?

Izzy: I think there’s a lot of post punk that’s very serious which is political and critical of it but it’s not in the way that I think we wanted to approach it. It’s more like DEVO playful and not preachy and like you said satirical. I wish there were more people engaging in that kind of subject.

LG: I didn’t see it but I read you were inspired by a Swedish film.

Izzy: Aniara. It’s really fucked up. I told the director to watch it and she was like, “I was really messed up for a week, I couldn’t stop thinking about that movie.”

LG: Is it disturbing visually or mentally?

Izzy: It’s the themes of it, it’s so close to home. It’s like the earth is destroyed and these people get lost on a spaceship and and you’re just trapped in this shopping mall, floating in a void, like is life even worth living anymore? So it’s just very existential, the crisis of that.

LG: Did you read anything as well that inspired the record?

Halle: Venus stuff

LG : As in Venus in Furs?

They chuckle

Halle: We all read this book Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi, about inequities and discriminatory policies.

Izzy: And Winners Take All by, Anand Giridharadas, about critical capitalism, which articulates why we’re in a fucking shit show. It’s almost comforting to read theory about it, I think.

Halle: Winners Take All is about tech start ups and how they pretend or how they think they can save the world but it’s actually just for profit and they think they’re doing good but you can’t really do that much good when you’re just as focused on making money for yourself. It doesn’t work.

Izzy: It’s like when technology and making money conflicts. They wanna say that they’re making the world a better place.

Halle: But it’s adding unnecessary stuff to the ether.

LG : A lot of people tell me that art should mirror reality but I think we’re all trying to escape it and I find yours is kind of both BECAUSE it mirrors it but attempts to escape it as well. What is your aim

Halle: I personally think art shouldn’t be anything. It should be whatever comes out naturally, whatever you want to express that’s authentic to you and if that has to do with commenting on something that is real or something that has absolutely nothing to do with reality, you should make that.

Izzy: I don’t think there’s any rules.

Lola: I don’t think art is escaping reality but I think it offers like a melancholy representation of what is going on.

Izzy: I mean we do make a little fake world, though. In that part, it’s kind of an escape.

Lola: I think we put stuff in a shiny light and that, in a way, makes it not super realistic.

LG: I remember seeing your first show in Europe about three years ago and the crowd being mystified, including members of local post punk bands. What was it like playing on another continent?

Halle: Everyone in Paris crowds always freak out.

Izzy: We love Paris because they love us.

LG: How was the show last night for you?

Halle: It was our favorite show of the tour.

Lola: It’s always a great show in Paris.

Izzy: It’s always so fun, people go crazy there! Hollering, wooping and barking!

LG: Although you’re a recent band, do you think it’s easier to be a female performer these days than it used to be?

Izzy: We can only assume but it seems that it was really shitty before.

LG: I see more and more all female bands.

Izzy: It’s like a domino effect. I think you have to see others. At least, I had to see other girls do it to feel like it wasn’t impossible.

LG: Do you have any favorites that you like to play with? Local or foreign?

Lola: We just performed with this band called Speedboat that we really liked, in Brighton. They’re male.

Halle: For female fronted, there’s Drawla. We haven’t played with them but we like them. And Sleeping Promises.

Lola: Bodydouble from Oakland, they’re really great.

Izzy: Sex Doll.

Lola: It’s still pretty rare, though.

LG: What would you say is the best band you’ve ever seen of all time?

Izzy: As far as old timers: Devo, Bauhaus, Blondie.

Lola: I think the best show I’ve ever seen was Daft Punk.

Halle: My favorite show that I’ve seen of a new person was Porches. That was amazing!

LG: I’m not familiar with them.

Halle: It’s a guy from New York, a little poppy, alternative pop but I like the production on it a lot. Deviant pop.

Who were your main inspirations, when you started the band? If you had any?

Lola: Our friend’s band, they’re called Nice As Fuck. NAF. They’re very minimal and very melodic leading vocals, very simple. Rhythm section.

LG: In terms of consumption, are you in favor of certain streaming platforms compared to others? Do you agree to have all your music on Spotify?

Lola: My mentality is always that these things are going to exist, you can’t fight them. So you just got to do your best to move forward.

Izzy: I think there could be more collectivity. Spotify, for the artist, their share of profit is so fucked up. And I think it could happen where people say that’s not cool!

Halle: We’re critical of it but we’re not going to lie and say we don’t use Spotify.

Lola: I think someone could come up with something that’s better and hopefully they’re less profit minded.

Izzy: We just need to reshape capitalism as a whole and then all of these things will sort themselves out.

Halle: It’s just the way that people make money is messed up.

LG: Have you ever thought about writing a score for any director you like?

Halle: Sure, we’ll call David Lynch up. We’ve fantasized about that our whole lives in the band.

LG: And have you thought of the kind of film genre?

Izzy: A horror film would be cool.

Lola: Apocalypse.

Halle: Not a comedy, not a romance. Even though I love a rom-com. Maybe a live score.

With thanks to Automatic for their participation. Their latest album Excess came out on Stones Throw Records on the 24th June and is available on vinyl, CD and digitally.

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