Simple Melodies And Deep Feelings

9 December 2015 | 2:09 pm | Simone Ubaldi

"I feel like creating is the highest epitome of being and not being at the same time. It's all fluid. It's a space where there is only space."

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Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker are Girlpool — a minimalist indie-punk duo from Los Angeles that rose up out of SXSW 2015. They have an unmistakable sound — a bleating harmonic vocal backed by spare notes from Tividad's bass and Tucker's guitar. No drums. It could so easily be aggravating, their spare nasal whine, but Girlpool songs have a beguiling sincerity. The melodies are simple but the feelings run deep.

Speaking to Tividad and Tucker on the phone, it's clear that they are far more comfortable expressing themselves in music than in an interview. At 19 and 18 years old respectively, they're still on the young end of the industry spectrum and they seem lost in their own thoughts. They struggle to find a straight answer, even when you offer them their choice of questions. "I feel like a really fun thing I like talking about is grey area and how much of everything there is all the time and how to experience everything all the time and to feel the weight of how much the muchness of the universe is," Tividad says. "I like talking about that."

"We're at completely opposite ends of the spectrum ... We love to explore those spaces between us."

Tividad and Tucker met at The Smell — a DIY arts and music venue in Downtown LA where creative kids network and put bands together. The girls clicked immediately, both as friends and songwriters, spending endless hours in Tucker's living room writing tunes for their debut, self-titled EP. "I think that Cleo and I have a very special chemistry in terms of communicating and accepting and loving each other," Tividad explains. "We're at completely opposite ends of the spectrum and some things, and with some things we're so close it's unbelievable. We love to explore those spaces between us."

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The first Girlpool EP was recorded in a day and a half and distributed on cassette in 2014 (before its re-release on Witchita Recordings). It included Blah Blah Blah and Slutmouth, two unapologetic declarations of feminist independence from two very talented young women. If unpolished, if slightly belligerent, the EP felt very honest. It was followed in 2015 by the first Girlpool album, Before the World Was Big, which kept the intimacy and immediacy of their earlier songs while exploring a wider scope of emotions. The title track is an ode to the safety of childhood and is somehow both fierce and sweetly nostalgic. What's extraordinary is that they can express so much with so slight a musical palette.

Tividad and Tucker believe that their power comes from embracing creativity. "When I'm making anything I feel — this is going to sound really corny, probably — eternal. It's like time doesn't exist," Tividad says. "When you're involved in creating something, it's the only thing you can feel or see or embody at that moment." Tucker feels the same — as though she is drifting in space. "I feel like creating is the highest epitome of being and not being at the same time. It's all fluid. It's a space where there is only space."

Under the circumstances you have to wonder how Girlpool would measure success. "For Harmony and I, it's about making things that feel really thorough and full to both of us. That's the only weight we hold in our hands," says Tucker. "Whether we were in my living room for thirty years writing songs together or doing what we're doing now, I feel the weight would be the same."