Brooklyn-based Heloise & The Savoir Faire has been generating buzz for their unique garage-rock-meets-synth-pop sound and frenetic live shows that are part downtown punk, part drag queen cabaret. A hit at last year’s South By Southwest music festival, they’ve also got a decent following across the pond (natch) and are getting ready to embark on a small European tour to support their 10-month old debut album Trash, Rats, & Microphones.
We caught up with lead singer Heloise Williams (yep, that’s her real name) after a rehearsal for tonight’s show at New York’s Bowery Ballroom (you can still grab tix here) and learned her secrets for crafty costumes, got a few good recommendations for our next gay-themed movie night, and found out how tall Elijah Wood really is in person. Read our interview after the jump.
Flavorwire: Outrageous costumes are a huge part of your live shows – what inspires them and is it different for every show?
Heloise Williams: It is pretty different for every show. It used to be crazily different, even within one show. Like, we’d run out to the Salvation Army and pick up all this tropical-themed stuff and the first part of our show would be like we were in Hawaii. Then we’d switch into military gear for the second part. Now, it’s kinda like whatever we can think of next. My friend Todd Thomas is an amazing designer and has done of some my recent costumes. Sometimes you need an occasion. We recently performed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and our inspiration was Diana Ross in Central Park in 1983 – lots of red tulle and a red sequin jumpsuit.
Flavorwire: One of our favorite songs off the album is “Disco Heaven”. If such a place existed, would you be God? And how would everyone else get in?
HW: Well see, the thing is, when I was thinking of that song I was envisioning “Disco Heaven” as a version of hell. So, I guess you’d have to be pretty naughty to get there. Who would I be? I don’t know. I just want to be divine.
Flavorwire: Speaking of which, we know you’re a huge fan of Divine. We’ve only seen Hairspray. What’s your favorite Divine film?
HW: You have to go out and rent Pink Flamingos immediately. It’s disgusting and definitely my favorite. It’s all about taking the idea of beauty to the most obscene, grotesque level. I love the sense of rebellion and humor – like I’m going to do what I want and I don’t give a shit.
Flavorwire: You got to work with one of your other idols – Debbie Harry – on the album. Who would you like to collaborate with in the future? Might we suggest Cyndi Lauper.
HW: That’s so funny. I was going to say Cyndi too. I just saw her at the Logo awards and she is just so awesome. I really hit the jackpot with Debbie though. It’s hard to go up from there.
Flavorwire: You are signed to Simian, Elijah Wood’s imprint at Yep Roc Records. How did that happen?
HW: My good friend Pamela Racine of Gogol Bordello introduced me to Elijah and he came to see one of our shows. He told me he wanted to start a record label and then he went out and did it, and I was totally surprised. It was one of those times when the best possible thing that could’ve happened happened. The label is very do-it-yourself, which is perfect for us.
Flavorwire: Is Elijah really tiny in person? [Editor’s note: I made him ask. Brian didn’t want to.]
HW: You know, I never really thought about it until everyone started asking me that. I’m definitely taller than him, but he’s got a big persona. He’s got a charisma that’s larger than life.
Flavorwire: Are there any new bands out there that you’re excited about now?
HW: Yes, there’s a great band called Lights that we’re doing a show with in February. It’s two girls and a guy. Very seventies Stones but still dancey. They have a really slow, sexy groove and an amazing psychedelic light show. I’m a big fan. Our show is on the Friday the 13th before Valentine’s Day at the Zipper Factory. The theme is “Happy Valumetine’s Day.” It’s all going to be very Valley of The Dolls, with huge pills everywhere (laughs).
Flavorwire: Another one we’ve never seen.
HW: Really? You have to rent that one too. You can have a movie night with Pink Flamingos and Valley of the Dolls.
Flavorwire: Lastly, the question on everyone’s mind right now: What are your thoughts about Britney’s comeback?
HW: Oh, I’m rooting for her all the way. I went over the a friend’s house a few months ago and we had a Britney’s back party where we watched that MTV special on her, what’s it called? I just feel so bad for that girl. She had so much success so young that she didn’t have any time to experiment and be a weirdo on her own. And I can understand wanting to rebel against it.