When Camila Grey and Leisha Hailey joined forces to form Uh Huh Her, they never anticipated that they would end up touring North America in a poshly appointed tour bus. Had they given the prospect of such success some serious consideration, the darling duo would have picked a more original name for their electro-pop outfit.
"I don't think we thought it out very well at the time because we didn't know how big the band could become," Grey says, on the line from San Diego, where the L.A.-based twosome is about to kick off its first major tour in support of its debut album, Common Reaction. "We thought, ”˜Oh, we'll just release this EP under this name, no big deal.' "
Because Uh Huh Her also happens to be the name of a 2004 album by alt-rock icon PJ Harvey, Grey and Hailey had faced unforeseen challenges, the most unexpected of which is that people often mistake the project for a Harvey cover band.
"I am such a fan of PJ Harvey," Grey explains. "But I'm not really influenced by her at all."
Somewhat surprisingly, the session musician turned front woman admits that the duo's dreamy electro ballads, which feature haunting vocal stylings, are actually inspired by Radiohead.
"I cannot help but let them seep into my brain every two seconds," she says. "Everything they've done is just so unique. I really applaud people who do concept records and kind of go off the deep end—like they did with Amnesiac—and don't really care what their fans think because it's their art."
On the topic of music as art, the ladies of Uh Huh Her couldn't be happier with Common Reaction, a stunning affair of slinky synthesizer-laden pop released on Vancouver's Nettwerk Records. Building on the moody sensibilities of last year's I See Red EP, the act's debut full-length refines what was a stormy, retro-inspired sound, offering slick '80s-influenced melodies like "Explode" and "Not a Love Song".
"You can definitely see the difference," Grey says of the two records. "One is kind of lo-fi DIY style and the other is really polished. That was kind of the goal—just to polish everything up."
There was another goal in making the album: to prove that Grey and her The L Word actress bandmate (Hailey—who also played in the '90s indie-pop band the Murmurs—stars as Alice Pieszecki on the hit Showtime series) have more to offer than a stylish wardrobe, Hollywood good looks, and, um, a supposed predisposition to girl-on-girl action. Ultimately, the two musicians hope that Common Reaction will highlight some of their other skills.
"I think that people like to think this is a vanity project because we're two chicks in a band who like to dress up, but it really isn't," Grey says defiantly. "We can play our asses off."
Uh Huh Her plays Richard's on Richards on Sunday (November 9).