There’s something seriously rock ’n’ roll about crocheting. That’s no joke; in our prefab world, having an honest-to-God skill, like being able to knit your own sweaters, embodies the DIY spirit at the heart of the best rock music. It’s fitting then, that Deap Vally’s Lindsey Troy and Julie Edwards got to know each other with needles in their hands. In 2011, Troy took a crochet class that Edwards was teaching at the shop she owned at the time, the Little Knittery in Los Angeles’s artsy Silver Lake neighbourhood. The two women hit it off, and it turned out they both had musical pedigrees, with Edwards having been a member of the experimental-rock act Pity Party and Troy having performed solo as a singer-songwriter.
“We had a lot in common, but we were from different worlds,” recalls Troy, reached in San Diego where she’s visiting family. “We were just really drawn to each other. I was just working strange jobs at the time, and I had a lot of free time on my hands, so I was, like, going in there and visiting her. We just became good friends. I was hoping to start a band with her. That idea came to me pretty quickly, but I didn’t want to bring it up, because any time I’d ever tried to bring it up with anyone in the past it never worked out. I think I have a tendency of coming on really strong and scaring people off or something, so I tried to play it cool, and finally she brought up the idea to me. I knew from that moment that it was on.”
Indeed it was, and it continues to be so. Inspired by the likes of Led Zeppelin, the Stooges, and the White Stripes, the duo developed a sound that is paradoxically pared-down (just vocals, guitars, and drums) but monumentally huge-sounding. On blistering numbers like “Gonna Make My Own Money” and “Baby I Call Hell”, Edwards’s Bonham-scaled beats propel Troy’s overdriven guitar riffs and her singing, which sounds like what might have resulted if Karen O had grown up on a steady diet of Son House.
Deap Vally may be based in the entertainment capital of the U.S. (if not the world), but the band broke in England first. BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe heard one of the duo’s songs, “End of the World”, and declared it “the hottest record in the world” on his program last October. Deap Vally’s debut album, Sistrionix, was released in the U.K. this June to largely glowing reviews, and it ought to get a similarly warm reception when it finally comes out in North America this fall.
Before then, rock’s answer to Thelma and Louise will be hitting the festival circuit for the rest of the summer, playing everything from Lollapalooza in Chicago to Pukkelpop in Belgium. And this is where the ancient art of needlework enters the equation again; you won’t catch Troy and Edwards staring idly out of the window of the tour van.
“If we didn’t have knitting and crochet, we would go crazy,” Troy says. “I think that if everyone in the world learned some sort of skill with their hands—like an organic skill like that—the world would be a much more peaceful place.”