Cliquer ici pour la version française.
KUB3 sat down with one of New York City’s hottest emerging bands, Menya, to talk about the birth of the band, writing new songs, sex, and what’s in store for the future.
Lise – Introduce yourselves and tell me what you guys do in the band.
Angie Ripe - My name is Angie Ripe and I sing in the band Menya.
Lise – And Nicky what about you?
Coco Dame – My name is Coco Dame. A couple years ago Richard and I entered into to a concert with MIA, that was free, and apparently Kool Kids was on the bill, and Santogold, and Spankrock,… and then that’s basically how we decided. Richard introduced me to that kind of music a lot more, so then he gave me a track and then… oh, no, shit we’re not doing that part of the question yet!
Lise – Doesn’t matter!
Angie Ripe - [Joking] Jeez, Nicky!
Lise – Ok, so basically Nicky and Richard, you guys met and you went to a concert together?
Coco Dame - Yeah.
Angie Ripe – Yeah, and I was there too, but I wasn’t part of the band yet. Nicky and Richard started making music together. And then I jumped on. How long ago was it Nick?
Coco Dame – 2007.
Angie Ripe - Oh! So it was over that long ago?
Lise – Yeah, because you guys released your first EP, “The ‘Ol Reach Around” in May 2008, I think.
Coco Dame – Angie is also one of my best friends, so, it was kind of really cool to see her sing and be part of something that I was doing already. I don’t know. I feel like she really helped make the band complete. So now it’s three of us.
Angie Ripe – Partners in crime!
Lise – Ok, well how did you guys come up with the fusion of hip-hop, electro, and pop, which is how you describe Menya on your Myspace?
Angie Ripe – Well, I know I’m way more of the pop element. Nicky, you want to take this one?
Coco Dame – Sure. I think we’re all really big pop fans, in our own different ways. We all have a love for 90s pop music for the most part. And I’ve been into electro music for a long time and musicians who were already using hip-hop and electronic already. I’ve also listened to hip-hop and rap for my whole life, and it’s always been a part of my playlist. Richard was really into hip-hop too, but I think on a different level, more like from a producer standpoint.
Lise – So you guys feel like you’ve been influenced a lot by 90s pop music and hip-hop?
Angie Ripe – Yeah, well I mean like, pop, and the late 60s, like psychedelic era, that and Britney Spears pop for me. So, that’s like the gist. And Nicky is most definitely what brings the hip-hop. Well, I guess Richard does too, but as far as like the performing aspect is concerned it’s Nicky who brings the hip-hop on stage.
Lise – How do you guys tackle the process of writing a new song? Do you sit down and hash it out or do you play around with it or do you get a certain idea from something that happened in your lives…?
Angie Ripe – Well, Richard will usually give us a batch of beats that he’s been working on, and we kind of individually work on them. And then maybe Nicky and I come together and work on them and then the three of us get together and hash it out then. But I definitely think we work on them alone first, for sure.
Coco Dame - I remember that “Lonely, lonely” and “Oh”, I had those lyrics and the melody in terms of rapping and like kind of in my head but it didn’t really get fleshed out. Yeah, so there’s some parts of songs that are already written, so that’s one way. But sometimes it works better when we are just feeling silly and when it’s on the spot.
Lise – So when you guys write your songs you use some pretty provocative, dirty words and in the past your lyrics have been described as “potty mouth”, “ultra provocative”, and “raunchy”…
Angie Ripe – I like “potty mouth”!
Lise – But, at the same time, you address pretty sensitive topics such as relationships, sexuality, and, well, just sex in general. How do you balance these two – do you feel like you omit or add provocative words to get your message across?
Angie Ripe – I have a potty mouth regardless of the music. I don’t know, it doesn’t feel taboo.
Coco Dame – Yeah, I agree. And there’s times where I’m like “should we say this or should we not? ” But it’s always “let’s say it” in the end. And it’s good. It’s more challenging. I guess people view it differently but it’s more challenging to make it not just a dirty word.
Angie Ripe – Yeah we always try not to use profanities for no point.
Coco Dame - Yeah, and like in “Bitch, come and get it”, that’s one example of mockery or imitation. It’s a kind of satire.
Lise – So on the same line of sex, a few popular bands like Gossip and Placebo are playing up the fact that a wide variety of sexualities make up their bands. Placebo even semi-advertises themselves as a band with a bisexual, a homosexual, and a heterosexual.
Angie Ripe - Yeah, I’ve heard of them. That’s cool!
Lise – And Nicky – being an openly gay member of a band – how do you feel about these bands publicizing their sexuality?
Coco Dame - I think that it’s a personal choice. But I think it’s great because, just like any other person who’s straight would make a song about the opposite sex, I think that it’s just as important and should be just as natural for someone who identifies as gay, lesbian, transgender, whatever to talk about those things too. I remember going to our first out of town show where a guy came up after and was like, “Oh, I didn’t know that you were like that,” implying that I was gay. He’s like basically saying that he would never find himself seeking out a concert like that. I guess he was right there, and was probably drinking a beer and didn’t want to leave and heard something that he liked so he stayed. And, you know, it wasn’t the most settling comment but it was probably the first time that he realized that it was important to be open about your sexuality. And I don’t think it’s harmful to anyone.
Lise – Recently Menya released three songs: a response to 3Oh!3 “Ho’s Response” [see below, and the original version is here], a cover of Vanessa Carlton’s “White Houses”, and a flip cover of Kelly Clarkson’s “I Do Not Hook Up” re-titled “(So What) I Hook Up”. How did you think of these awesome songs?
Angie Ripe – Honestly, me and Nicky were not excited about it and were like “Richard, we don’t like these songs.” Richard from the beginning was like “You guys should cover 3Oh!3′s “Don’t Trust Me”. I’d never heard it before and I hated those skinny fucks. And then we opened our minds a little bit, rewrote the songs, and we had a fucking great time doing them!
Coco Dame – Yeah, Richard came up with the “White Houses” all on his own.
Angie Ripe – Yeah and he blew us away too!
Coco Dame – He was like, “I’m going to do a Vanessa Carlton cover” and we were like “Ok” and he said he’d already written the vocals so we were like “Ok.”
Angie Ripe - No, I was like “Richard, I’m not singing on that. I don’t like Vanessa Carlton.” But he played it and I was like “Holy shit! That’s awesome!”
Lise – And you received a very positive response from Rolling Stone magazine for your flip of “(So What) I Hook Up”. You’ve also gotten enthusiastic recognition from the UK’s The Guardian. How does it feel to be acknowledged by such large publications?
Angie Ripe – Um, amazing! It’s everything that I’ve ever wanted. I cannot believe that they took time out of their day to write about us.
Coco Dame – I flipped out, I was like “This is awesome!”
Angie Ripe - Yeah, when I saw Rolling Stone I was like, “Shut the fuck up!” And there was no one at my house, so I was running around like “Who can I tell!?” And there was no one.
Coco Dame – I don’t think about it every day. I forget about it and I think that’s a good thing. Like, it’s a big deal but it’s also not a big deal. We’re still pretty unknown, we’re hoping to change that, but I do appreciate them recognizing us and taking time to write about our band. It’s really, really cool! And I don’t want to downplay it or upgrade it but…
Angie Ripe – I think if anything it’s motivation to keep on going.
Coco Dame – Yeah, it’s definitely encouragement to do more.
Angie Ripe - And work harder.
Lise – What does the future of Menya look like?
Angie Ripe – Hopefully we are signed to some label that we love. That’s what I want to do. That’s what we all want to do.
Coco Dame - But our main focus is to just keep on expanding. We’re learning so much and I think if we had jumped on board a label last year that would have been a mistake. All in due time. We’ll see what happens. We might do a spring tour. And we’re going to do some more marketing for our mix tape.
Lise – Do you have any hopes for going international someday?
Angie Ripe – Absolutely!
Coco Dame – That would be a dream for us to go abroad!
Lise – Well I already know a few people in France who want to see you! Thank you so much for the interview!
New Mix Tape coming out on October 2nd.