No Swoon is a dreamgaze band based in Brooklyn, New York. The band was formed by writing duo Tasha Abbott (vocals, guitar) and Zack Nestel-Patt (synths) in 2016 and released its eponymous debut album via Substitute Scene Records in 2019. The record is a lush trip, weaving hypnotic synths with reverb-drenched vocals and distorted, wailing guitar. Lyrically, the record focuses on the unease, frustration, and isolation of modern life. Album opener and lead single “Don’t Wake Up, Wake Up” is an especially urgent take on these themes. “The music video for ‘Don’t Wake Up, Wake Up’ follows two people searching for and finding themselves lost, slipping between a dream and reality,” explains Abbott. Along with an upcoming west coast tour, which will feature drummer Jonathan Smith behind the kit, the band is currently working on material for its next release.
In this interview, the duo chats about their go-to LA eateries, debut album, influences, and upcoming plans.
First of all, you guys were looking for some good bagels in LA last month. Did you find them? What are some of your favorite places to eat out here?
Didn’t find bagels, but more importantly didn’t find pizza. NY pizza is really a thing and it just isn’t the same here. LA does have some incredible food though. Specifically: Night + Market Song, Din Tai Fung, Guisados, Sonoratown, Xiang La Hui, Teddy’s Red Tacos, Pine & Crane.
How did the band form?
No Swoon formed back in 2016 as a duo (Tasha and Zack) when we were spending some time on the west coast. We found a sound that eventually was released as our EP in 2018. Since then we have continued to share songwriting duty pretty evenly and kind of have just kept doing the same thing: work on new songs, play shows, etc. We bring in drummers to play live and record. The record was played by Robi Gonzalez who is amazing (he also played our LA show back in December). The last tour and most recent NYC shows have been with Evan Eubanks who is also amazing. And lastly our upcoming west coast tour will be with Jonathan Smith.
I watched you perform your debut album at the Echoplex in LA. It’s a killer record. What are you most proud of on that record? What were the biggest challenges creating it?
Thanks. Just making a record at all is a big enough achievement to be proud of. Writing and recording this type of music is really new for us — so we’re still amazed that we have this thing that came from our heads that people might listen to. Specifically, we’re really proud of our lyrics. We think (and hope) they tell important stories and really get to the crux of what we were feeling and thinking about as we were working on this. As far as challenges, I mean, making things is hard. Making something that you think is good is REALLY hard. We never had the opportunity to dedicate studio time and writing time as we wanted. It had to fit between full-time jobs. Burn out was real, but it is also what made getting up and going to work manageable; knowing that we were doing this thing that we loved.
“Faces” is my favorite track. Can you shed some light on how it came to be?
“Faces” was one of the first we wrote for the record — back in 2018. Honestly, Tasha had just gotten the EarthQuaker Hummingbird pedal and found the sound that ended up being the big guitar chords in the beginning. The sample that starts and ends the song is a manipulated preset from a synth we don’t even own anymore. For a while it just lived as a drum beat and a sample — then Tasha’s guitar tone kind of glued it together. It went through a lot of different phases before we landed on how it sounds on the record.
What was the motivation behind starting a band? Did creating “dreamgaze” music come about organically or was it a concerted effort to stick to guitar and synth-driven tunes?
It’s really as simple as Tasha buying an electric guitar and a distortion pedal and Zack buying a synth. We’ve both made music for a long time and wanted to try something different and louder. Basically people said we sounded like shoegaze and dreampop, so I guess it just made sense. Genres suck. I think we were just trying to listen to stuff we like and write something that could be played next to it. We listen to shoegaze and dream pop but definitely weren’t trying to write strictly in those genres. But we did get a lot of angry middle-aged men yelling at us on Facebook that we didn’t know what shoegaze was and ‘who are we to say we are a shoegaze band.’ So there’s that.
You have a show coming up at Non Plus Ultra put on by Pretty but Wicked Presents on 2/20. What else does the band have planned for 2020?
Yeah! It’s going to be a great show! We are playing with Cryogeyser, Dummy, and Shavand … [That show] kicks off a west coast tour and then we are back in LA March 6th at The Smell which kicks off a cross country tour back to NYC with stops at SXSW and Treefort Fest. Facebook and Instagram will have all the deets soon. Also we’ve been working on writing the next record while out here in LA.
Who are your biggest musical influences?
We always find ourselves coming back to Beach House, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Cocteau Twins, St. Vincent, and Radiohead.
What’s your favorite album to listen to from start to end?
Z: #1 favorite is pretty hard, but right now I have been listening to Jeff Parker’s The New Breed a lot.
T: Can I have three? Cocteau Twins – Heaven or Las Vegas, Beach House – 7, St. Vincent – Masseduction. I could list so many more, but those are the recent listenings. They’re all weird and interesting, but simply always just make me feel really good.