There's a band playing at Chop Suey tonight called Iglu and Hartly who, I'm told, like to perform "nearly nude". Stranger contributor Dagmar Sieglinde talked to singer Jarvis Anderson about nakedness and YouTube videos.
Interview after the jump...
photo by Daniel Norton
This album, And Boom, took about three years to make?
JA: Probably around two. A couple of the beats I already had worked out and we revamped them. Writing the hooks is always the hardest part. I’ve written countless beats for Iglu & Hartly. It’s basically a vision of how our lifestyle was at the time we lived in this house in Echo Park. It was at the bottom of a canyon and we called it the compound because it had 15-foot concrete walls around it. It was in a semi-dicey neighborhood in LA but it was cool because there was a big art-vibe going on too. It was basically a commune. I would just be sitting at the console I created, looking out at the jungle basically and everyone would be dancing and hanging out. I could try out new tunes all the time. It was an amazing atmosphere — lots of free love. All the band members lived in the house and we made this cabana on the rooftop. Eventually one of our neighbors tried to sue us — to get us off the roof. Kids were peeing off the roof. There may have been a little bit of nudity. We had to leave the house — we had to go on tour and couldn’t afford it anymore.
I was looking at some of your YouTube (including the skinny dipping in Switzerland) videos — do you still have the dog, Hocho?
JA: Yeah, Hocho lives in Texas with Simon’s [Katz, guitarist] parents right now. She’s loving life, she has a big yard and hangs out with other dogs. I miss her. The cops would come over [to the house] sometimes and Hocho hated everybody else but she loved cops. We never got in trouble with the cops — they just came over to tell us to turn it [the music] down.
Are you the one from Iglu & Hartly who mentioned liking Ace of Base?
JA: That comes from people asking me what my influences are. I go back to when I was a kid and I think that’s the most important part of your life when you’re listening to music. That’s when it all soaks in, when you get your musical foundation. Ace of Base was the first cd I bought. I’m not ashamed to say it.
I love them.
JA: There are a lot of influences. My mom always played a bunch of soul music — Marvin Gaye . . . the 80s soul masters were always played at my house. I remember dancing with my ma to Sexual Healing in the living room. I had piano lessons when I was a kid — fucking hated them but then I could express what I was feeling [with music]. That’s the greatest gift a parent can give.
I read that when you were in London you moved into Take That’s former studios?
JA: Take That was in an Iglu & Hartly sandwich because we had half the band living above them and half the band living below them. We didn’t know who the hell they were. These tabloids in London went crazy and reported anything we did. We thought that was hilarious. We would be doing interviews and they would say, so, Take That is kicking you out. We had no idea what Take That is. I think they had some influence in booting us out of there. We weren’t really that bad — it’s just kind of funny.
When you first started out in Los Angeles I read you used to sneak into mansion parties?
JA: We made a pact. We were like, we’re leaving school . . . we’re going to LA — we’re going to make it, we’re going to make this happen. Me and Simon would go around to all the venues and they would all turn us down. We’d describe ourselves as electronic hip- hop and they’d be like, hell no. Then we started saying we were rock music but the gigs weren’t good. Then we finagled our way into playing nightclubs that don’t have a stage. We’d go up to the Hollywood Hills and plot out how to get into the party. It was like a mission — half the fun was sneaking in. One time we spotted this party and then there was a construction site along the side. So we go through the construction site but the problem was there was a 20-foot fucking high fence separating the properties. But it had vines on it, so I was like, I’m going up. So I get to the top and there are no vines on the other side — I grabbed on to the hedge and firepoled down it. We all got in that way. We ended up making friends with everybody — hanging out in the pool and partying. There might have been a skinny dip session that night. I think LA is one of the coolest places in the world — it’s so fun.
What’s the most comfortable thing to wear while you’re onstage performing?
JA: The least as possible. It’s unbelievable how hot the stage gets. It was kind of scary on this last tour because Bucher [Michael Bucher, bassist] had a rash that engulfed his entire body. We’d all be shirtless and I’m like rubbing up against Bucher. It was a scary situation. I had this little red mark under my eye for a little bit and I was like, Bucher — if you gave me your fucking rash I’m gonna kill you.
What were studying when you were in school?
JA: I was studying business and never going to class. I wanted to produce hip-hop artists. Then I met Sam [Martin, singer/keyboardist] and we cut an underground hip-hop record [Endless Circles] together. I really liked the feeling of getting my music out there. The Colorado scene wasn’t ready for Iglu & Hartly.
The name Iglu & Hartly is from some ships?
JA: That’s what we told people in the UK. But that’s a lie. I was DJ Iglu in high school. I used to help out this mentally handicapped kid — I would wheel him around to classes and stuff. One day I was talking to him, one of the funniest guys I ever met, and I was like — what do you think my DJ name should be? He said I should be DJ Iglu. It was genius. Sam called himself Hartly Dark when I met him in college. That was the most asked question over there [in the UK] — and it’s a great question because Iglu & Hartly is the most fucked up band name I’ve ever heard. We’d have fun telling stories about the name — harmless stuff. We did the pineapple story. We did another story that was really great that our name was a code sent out to secret agents in world war two.
What are some of the weirder things that happened to you guys on your European tour?
JA: Some of the interviews were weird. Foreign journalists would hold up our record cover and be like, why? They were angry at us. One guy asked us “What is the deal with the muscle shirts?” They did understand the Iglu & Hartly vibe, and the music. It’s cool. Bucher’s rash was pretty weird. Me and Bucher had a really great, totally nude skateboarding session. It felt good. It feels good to be naked.
Interview by Dagmar Sieglinde