The Brooklyn-based band is setting the tone for all things funk, rock, and disco – with a stop at indie pop along the way. Introducing Blacktop Daisy.
AC: So tell me how the group started and how you guys got together.
Charlie: So roughly two years ago I was in a band that ended a little while before that and it was more of a rock and roll thing. I wanted to do something really at the beginning that was a little bit more danceable, a little bit more fun, but you know I didn’t really have that much of an idea behind it. I just started writing these really kind of rough instrumental demos with no vocals in most cases or anything like that. Tim found out about these and he really liked them and we started collaborating. So it really just started off with Tim and I, mostly with me writing the music and then Tim adding the vocals and collaborating back and forth that way. Then once we thought we were ready and we had enough good stuff happening we put together the rest of the band.
AC: I see, and was it just through meeting people at clubs, or was it through online connections?
Tim: A mix of both; some online things, some friends, and there was some trial and error involved in really forming the group. But we think it all worked out for the best.
Charlie: Yeah, I think I was originally just on sites like SoundCloud, posting these one- to two-minute snippets of music, and I think Tim originally heard me on there and that was how we connected. But from there, like Tim said, it was kind of a mix. We’ve gone through a couple of line-up changes to get the perfect line-up, but really happy with where the band is at now in terms of the musicians that are in it.
AC: What type of sound have you been trying to emulate?
Tim: It’s a real kind of dance-rock sound. We have a lot of different influences that range from funk to new wave, but we kind of harness that into this like dance-rock umbrella. I feel like we’ve been working to be like a kind of modern, tight house band. So the sound is accessible still, but it’s got this very organic-like human-made music, which is, I think, a little slightly different shift for dance music now; it’s very electronic and we’re kind of doing this live, everything live, kind of thing.
Charlie: Right. I think Tim makes a great point, which is not necessarily to say that we don’t like electronic dance music, but there is something that is just really appealing to this kind of more organic dance sound that you would hear maybe in the late ‘70s with funk and disco. So that’s normally, for me anyway, that’s how it kind of started out, was just creating these demos with drums, keyboards, guitar and bass and really kind of limiting ourselves to that, you know? What can we do with these four key pieces? Not trying to over-produce it, not trying to add to the electronic bells and whistles, and just create something great based on that, was kind of the idea. As far as direct influences though I would say it’s kind of all over the place. We love kind of the more old ‘70s bands like Chic but also love newer disco sounds like LCD Soundsystem and that sort of thing. So it’s, I think especially when you take the whole band into account, really all over the place.
AC: At what point did you decide you were ready to put together the EP?
Charlie: I mean I think when you’re a band in New York it’s kind of like the logical next step. You get together, you get enough songs together to start playing shows, hopefully people like it, you play more shows and then the next step is getting something recorded. I think interestingly for us, maybe, which is really just more of a reflection of the way the music industry is today, I think that we don’t necessarily have immediate plans to put together an LP. It’s not because we have a lack of songs. I think we have the songs to put together an LP if we wanted to, but we’re kind of more interested at this point in putting out music in more bite-sized pieces like EPs and singles and that sort of thing. I mean the truth of the matter is people just have shorter attention spans these days than they used to and we want to put our music out in a package that is going to be easy to consume. Do you have anything to add to that, Tim?
Tim: Yes, totally. It’s all about the way people consume nowadays, they buy the one hot song that they want to hear over and over again, they’re not interested in like, a twelve-song album when they only like three of the songs on it. So we figure we might as well just continue for the next year or so giving them two songs, one song, four songs at a time and put it out that way.
AC: You mention that people consume music differently, which I think is proven every time you hear any one hit that’s just amazing, and then the other songs are maybe iffy. Has that affected your creative process at all?
Tim: I don’t think so. I mean, our process kind of goes through a few steps, I mean we definitely write a lot of songs and sometimes we write an awesome song and we’re like “oh, it’s so awesome, but it’s not right for our band”, so we won’t put it out. But I don’t think it deters us any from continuing to create. Sometimes it’s about marketing and getting the song marketed right, and sometimes it’s about just the energy and everything falling into place on its own. It’s always hit and miss, you never know. It can’t stop you from being creative.
Charlie: Yeah, I think that’s a really great point that he made about – and I don’t know if this necessarily answers what you’re asking, but – about making sure that it sounds like a Blacktop Daisy song. I think Tim and I and the band have spent a lot of time talking about what is Blacktop Daisy? What isn’t Blacktop Daisy? Why doesn’t the song work for us? And sometimes you can throw away your babies and that sucks. But I think another way to answer your question is say we don’t necessarily tailor our songs to appeal to an audience that has a perceived shorter attention span, but I think that our personal preference and our personal taste is certainly to write these kind of well-crafted, three- to four-minute pop songs because that’s just the kind of music that we grew up listening to. You won’t really hear us going off on a twelve-minute jam but it’s not necessarily because we think our audience won’t like it; to us it’s all about economy of getting in there and leaving people wanting more rather than less, hopefully.
AC: How did you guys come up with the name?
Charlie: Oh man, oh God.
Tim: It was a long process that involved spreadsheets. No, at the end of the day we felt like it was a cool name and we liked it and it worked well for the kind of contrast between light and dark that we kind of try to put into our songs. If a song sounds really heavy musically, maybe the lyric is a little on the darker side so that there is something more interesting happening, and we kind of felt like the name did the same thing; this kind of hard and soft contrast.
Charlie: Yeah, I liked it because, and this is totally open to interpretation – I don’t necessarily think the rest of the band thinks about it this way – but I like to think of it as somebody’s nickname. You know, a girl from round the way named Blacktop Daisy. I don’t think necessarily everybody agrees with me on that but that’s why I liked it.
Tim: Yeah, I always liked that idea too. I feel like maybe there is a song in there somewhere that there’s this hooker that lives down the block and that’s what everyone calls her.
Charlie: Yeah, actually I think we were talking about this a couple of weeks ago. At some point in our career we definitely need to write a song called Blacktop Daisy. I just want to be able to look on iTunes and see Artist: Blacktop Daisy, Song Title: Blacktop Daisy.
Tim: Yeah, that would be hilarious.
AC: Where can we find you online?
Tim: We have a website blacktopdaisy.com but we also have a Facebook page so that people can be our fan or whatever. We try to keep content on both places.
AC: You perform around Brooklyn; do you make it into Manhattan at all?
Tim: Yeah, I mean, I would say we play in Manhattan just as much, if not more, than Brooklyn. Our band members live in both Brooklyn and Manhattan so we kind of started out playing at more venues in Manhattan, you know. We love playing at places like Arlene’s Grocery, but you can also catch us in venues in Williamsburg as well. And you know, our shows are always updated on our website blacktopdaisy.com as well as our Facebook page, so we keep that pretty up-to-date.