Teen Commandments are five restless young hustlers from Williamsburg, Brooklyn who throw parties, collect synthesizers and worship at the altar of pop music. Burn All Night, a synthpop musical work of immersive theater that the band members developed alongside Broadway’s Andy Mientus and Van Hughes, recently concluded its run at the Oberon theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We asked frontman Brett Moses about the experience and more ahead of their upcoming EP “Read Between The Lines.”
Reggie Youngblood of Black Kids was also kind enough to shed some light on his favorite latest tunes compiled in this month’s playlist! Read and listen to both before grabbing tickets for next monday’s 10/23 Black Kids, Teen Commandments @ Baby’s All Right!
Your last big project was scoring the musical “Burn All Night”. How did that collaborative process compare to working on songs for a Teen Commandments release?
“Burn All Night” emerged from the same intimate, studio-centric collaborative process that we embrace in Teen Commandments, but by the time we made it to Boston for our first production, it had turned into this massive, wonderful circus. I’m used to the asceticism of indie rock–no manpower, no budget, no excess. For the first time, we had an immensely talented team of designers and creatives behind us. Talk about a head trip! We wrote songs in our tiny Greenpoint studio, shipped them off to the team, and they came back as these meticulous scores with harmonies and stage direction and lyrics.
Did that project change or influence how you approached your new music in any way?
Although “Read Between The Lines” was largely recorded by the time the musical was underway, “Burn All Night” has definitely impacted our approach to performing. This may seem stupidly obvious, but as a band we don’t get to watch ourselves perform. During the “Burn All Night” run, however, we got to watch this terrific group of actors bring our music to life every night. I think this helped us think about the drama in our music, about the performative aspects of it that may not come naturally to musicians, but certainly do to actors.
Obviously not every band would feel confident in lending their music to a work of theater – how would you describe your musical influences in working on that project, and how does that compare to what you draw from in making your own songs and records?
Nick and I weren’t theater kids, and I don’t think we ever imagined that we’d contribute to a musical, but Van, who has performed on Broadway for years, really turned us on to the whole idea. The references for Burn All Night were pure contemporary pop: Zayn, Arcade Fire, Carly Rae Jepsen, MGMT. For Teen Commandments songs, we’re more likely to reference italo disco, funk and 80s synth pop. It was super fun writing in a new idiom. I hate to say this, but it truly was “liberating”.
This has been a big year for pop releases – what have been your favorites so far?
Lorde – Melodrama
Kelela – Take Me Apart
The xx – I see you
What can we expect from your upcoming EP “Read Between The Lines”?
We’re putting our the second single History this week, in conjunction with our show at Baby’s. The full EP will drop in late November.
Interview by Morgan Lawrence
Black Kids October ’17 Playlist