For nearly seven years Jason Klauber and Molly Shea have been writing songs together under the moniker Acrylics. In 2009 their first EP, “All of the Fire”, was released on Terrible Records. Hot Sand Records and Friendly Fire Recordings partnered to release their second album (a personal favorite of mine) “Lives and Treasure” in 2011.
Jason and Molly have been a force in the Brooklyn music scene–their peers, collaborators and friends include members of Chairlift, Yeasayer and MGMT.
Jason and Molly shared a studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn with Patrick Wimberly of Chairlift; then moved to record at Vacation Island with producer Matt Boynton (who has worked on countless memorable records including artists Bat For Lashes, Beirut, Gang Gang Dance, Kurt Vile and MGMT).
If you haven’t picked up their records NOW is the time; and lucky us they will be releasing another very soon.
In the meantime check two of my favorite tracks “Molly’s Vertigo” & “Sparrow Song (feat. Caroline Polacheck of Chairlift)” from their album Lives & Treasure.
Where did you grow up? Do you think that had an influence on your inclination to play music or was it someone/something else?
Molly: Suburbs of Philadelphia. My dad had a huge record collection so music was a constant in my house. He also played guitar and sang, so that was my early inspiration. In high school I aligned myself with the music nerds and I would always go to shows in the city.
Jason: I grew up in New York City on a very busy street. Maybe I’ve always been trying to drown out all of the noise.
What instrument did you first pick up?
Molly: As a youngster I played piano. When I was 12-years-old I picked up the guitar. I had piano lessons early on, then guitar lessons. My guitar teacher had a tiny music shop in my little suburb where he gave me lessons in the back room. I also played with the jazz band in high school.
Jason: Piano and then Cello for a bit. I took lessons.
Who were your main early influences?
Molly: Madonna, Beatles and other British Invasion bands, classic rock, early 90s R&B music I would listen to on my bus ride to school and going to sleep at night.
Jason: Prince. My parents took me to see the Lovesexy tour at Madison Square Garden in in ’88. I had every tape to date.
What was your first instrument? What do you currently play? What is your set up like?
Molly: I started on a classical guitar when I was 12 years old. When I was in high school my Dad got a white Fender Stratocaster which I used to make some early recordings. My parents got me my own electric guitar when I was 17 years old and going off to college. I chose a brand new black Jazzmaster with a tortoise shell pick guard.
Jason: I was lucky to learn on a nice ’93 American Standard Fender Stratocaster and my Dad’s early-60s Martin 0021, which he purchased for a couple hundred bucks around 1964. The Martin is super small and very easy to play. I was fortunate to work with such a responsive and forgiving instrument from the beginning.
What is your favorite recording setup like? Amps, mics, etc.?
Molly: Right now the amp I use is an early 70s Mesa Boogie Mark I which sounds fantastic. I’ve heard the Stones used similar Boogies from that era to do Some Girls. I alternate between playing my Jazzmaster, Jason’s Haagstrom III, and my Fender Duo Sonic II mostly. But we have a bunch of other guitars in our collection. I am not really picky about mics. Sometimes I think the best recordings I’ve made have been through the computer mic.
Jason: That depends on the sound we’re going for. We are looking for sounds that will speak best within the given arrangement. Sometimes we’re cranking up an old (but heavily modded) Silverface Fender Pro Reverb and mic’ing all corners of a big room in search of strange echo and other ghosts. At other times we’re slamming guitars direct into the board for uncompromisingly present tones. I’m totally a novice when it comes to mics and often leave the decision making up to recording engineers. When I’m on my own, I don’t sweat mics all that much. I get cool sounds on my own using SM87s up close or going DI or whatever. My main Guitars include the ’93 Strat, ’57 Gibson ES-225, ’77 Greco “Lawsuit” Les Paul Copy, ’87 Epiphone Sheraton, Gibson LG-1 and J-45 acoustics, 90s Yamaha Acoustiic, and ’60 Silverstone “Dano Dolphin” Bass.
Do you have an opinion regarding analog vs. digital recording? What is your stance on it?
Molly: I tend towards analog, but I’m not gonna take a stance against digital recording. It’s nice to have options.
Jason: I always find myself drawn to the sound of analog tape and old tube gear but sometimes it’s best to fight that instinct. I love early digital stuff–especially delays and reverbs. Digital recording and editing is essential to our process. Our way is usually hybridized at its essence. I love that we have so many options now. We don’t even have to chose.
What is your favorite studio? Where do you usually record?
Molly: I love Vacation Island because it was very comfortable and 2 blocks from my apartment in Brooklyn. Aside from sounding great, it had a rad collection of vintage Playboy magazines. It recently fell victim to the wrecking ball. Vacation Island has essentially moved into The Magic Shop in SoHo. We love it there. It’s one of the last remaining classic places to go in New York. Support your local recording studio.
What is your writing process? Where do you get inspiration from?
Molly: I usually start with a melody, then I put it to music. Melodies come to me anytime, anywhere. In the shower, walking down the street, in dreams, etc. My greatest inspiration comes from listening to other records or seeing performances. When Jason and I write together, we just jam and see what happens.
Jason: Often the seed just comes out of Molly and me playing together. Other times a melody pops in your head. Songs build upon themselves. We play around with them and eventually they’ll take on a life of their own, dragging us along with them all the way to the point where we can no longer recognize our own creative hand in the song’s make-up.
Which players should aspiring musicians study and learn from?
Molly: Whoever gets you excited.
Jason: I think Jimmy Page is a good guitarist for young players to check out because he does so many things well and isn’t wimpy. Steve Cropper is a good player to emulate because he is very efficient. Beatles…
How did the Acrylics come about? Where did the name come from?
Molly: Jason and I used to play together in a band before Acrylics. When that band broke up we both wanted to continue working together. That’s how Acrylics was born. We chose the name Acrylics by opening up an art book and pointing to a word. It’s also a nice sounding word with not too many associations.
What are you currently working on / any new releases in the works?
Molly: We finished a new album this past summer. Release date TBA!
Where’s the best place people can find more information about you / your band(s)?
Molly: Please excuse our appearance while we are renovating
Jason: Find us on Twitter (@acrylicslife), Facebook, iTunes or Spotify.
Stephanie Nicole Smith is a visual artist and make up artist in Los Angeles, CA. You can find her work at stephanienicolesmith.com and follow her @stephanienicolesmith. She currently contributes to The Fuzz Guide via her Five Minutes series.