Popping Bubble Gum with Lillith

Weekend Lovers

I Love U in Real Life

Sonically Infused Emotive Pop

I hit play on I Love U in Real Life, the second record from Tucson’s Weekend Lovers, and I immediately was pulled into a deja vu movie theatre. I could almost smell the popcorn. I could see the scene in my mind like it was yesterday. A swaying blonde rock star with a spider tatoo singing in a packed club. Oh man, what was the movie! I could almost hear the lyrics of the song in my memory, but not enough to Goggle. I think I was halfway through the second song on the record when lightning hit my brain. The Crow. I had seen it three times in the theater on opening day. I just stayed in my chair for 6 hours. And Marta DeLeon’s band took me back 25 years to one of my favorite movies of the 90s.

#Wurmz

Part I: TUCSON

Ghost Writer : You have obviously been influenced by your time in New York and Seattle, but you came back to your hometown of Tucson, Arizona. I spend a lot of time talking to bands that think they need to leave here to arrive somewhere. Furthermore, one of the fundamentals of my company, Hookworm Records, is a deep sense of pride in the Excellence and Authenticity right here in our own Community. SO…. I guess the question is… after Seattle. After New York. Why Tucson?

Marta DeLeon : Mainly I was motivated by my mom’s declining health. But also, I never thought I’d live forever in NYC and be able to like be a home owner. Part of me, however, was sure curious about what it be like to be a musician here. Would it be easier or harder? I had left Tucson when I was 18 so I really didn’t experience that here growing up. In a lot of ways I was just like a transplant, except that I did get to see Nirvana before Kurt passed at the Phoenix Fair Grounds.

Ghost Writer : But, in comparison to those other cities, what does Tucson OFFER the indie artist? For example. I see Tucson as a city with an amazing indie scene. In a lot of ways better than Phoenix. It is compact; you can walk from Congress to 191 Toole. You can walk 4th ave. It is, for lack of a better term, friendly. It is inclusive…. rather than divisive.

The Patio at Club Congress

Marta : Yeah it’s definitely a very audience supported scene here. You can still feel it after 2020 people wanna see live music. Even on a weeknight, which could be a harder sell in Seattle or NYC.

GW: There is a sense of culture and HOME in Tucson that Phoenix does not have. A sense of committment to place.  I would love you to talk about that…. a committment to place

These four… feel the most departed from Coastal Cities

Yes we try to keep that alive. I worry the shuffling of resources or lack of them before and now even more challenging after 2020 ate some holes in places to play and the flow. But hopefully more outdoor opportunities to play arrive because we have so much space and great weather! Yes it’s always been an eccentric energy of making something out of nothing out of leftover crumbs and dust in Tucson. That pride of finding the brilliant and cozy in ugly or sun bleached is held sacred.

Marta DeLeon
Malvina Reynolds 1962

Part II: Cis Femme

We have played this game before, dear readers, you and I, with the lovers as they come and go talking of Michaelangelo. In fact, just a few weeks ago, I think I put a clip of Anthony Hopkins reading the T.S. Eliot poem to you. All about how to presume, when you have been labeled and measured, and pinned to the collection board like a butterfly with a push pin. When you have been labeled and formulated, sized and measured. How do you presume? This topic comes up often not only with music, or fashion, or movies, but just with people. We formulate phrases everyday that judge and box and pin, and some artits embrace those labels while others shun, or work against, them. A great example would be New Wave bands coming out of the UK in the early 1980s. For bands like Depeche Mode who were very concerned with being type-cast in the dance club scene, and contemporaries like Erasure (formed by Vince Clarke with Andy Bell after leaving Depeche) and The Pet Shop Boys embraced it.

Depeche Mode 1988 and in Leather

As my conversation with the very fun to chat with front woman continued, it became obvious that I was interested in this idea of division or classification in not only music, but society over all. Our heavy relaince on imagery, stereotype, and public persona to create intense judgement. It goes without saying that our trying social climate intensifies these observations. But I had just read the very stellar review of I Love u in Real Life from Tom Tom Mag: Drummers. Music. Feminism. Just the title of the magazine evokes niche, demographic, and political stance. All things that as a community of artists in Arizona right now, we are obviously struggling with.

Ghost Writer : When I think of bands Weekend Lovers reminded me of: Lush, The Sundays, The Cardigans, PJ Harvey, Blondie, Tori Amos, The Breeders, Sonic Youth – suddenly I felt like I was constructing a Lillith Fair lineup! {Guitarists.} Music. Feminism. See the connection, and I began formulating the questions that could lead to a very interesting converstion album review with the Tucson born singer.

From Seattle to Sonora by Way of NYC

Marta : I guess I think back and remember and still look up to and let’s say am influenced by Tori Amos, PJ Harvey as a template and sonically. Ani Difranco was a great example of how to be DIY /Tour for most.I’m not sure these all played Lilith Fair, but sure there is still the branding and boxes and having to think where you fit into that and what the audience might expect or that you have to represent of yourself when on social medias.

GW : Ani is a great example or an artist that is both… she has a very POWERFUL message and a mouthpiece and she uses it…. but that does not become more shall we say, important…. than her actual music. 

Marta : Yes I agree. I think many were political in that tone because they were breaking ground as cis femme indie artists.

Tucson’s Linda Ronstadt

GW : But why do we feel the need to say cis femme indie artists ?  IE….. how are they different say from Loretta Lynn playing Cole Miner’s Daughter… or Joni Mitchell or even Linda Ronstadt. What I am trying to get at is that it seems that now we almost WANT that tickey tackey division. It is almost like it gives us a place and an identity, where as I would think artists of a different generation fought against that.  That need to label it…. feels unique to our time now…. and it almost undoes idea of a song like Little Boxes. It seems people embrace the labels… whereas previously we bucked them and fought them.  So I am always curious as to how that element changes over time.

Marta : Sure but I guess I said that because BIPOC or gender were not part of the national discourse. I can’t speak for everyone who gets swept into some generic dustbin over the years.  I can only speak from my experience as a cis femme who still might be the only femme performing on a bill. And people still assume I do not, or ask me if I write my own lyrics / surprised I did a music video . Indie rock has been historically white but it doesn’t have to continue to be. I’m not sure embrace is the right word. Maybe they feel more claimed or seen? Of course I don’t want tokenism you’re right, like I can only play a femme fronted curated night. I want to he thought of as a fellow peer.

GW : Chelsey Louise (Fairy Bones) and Solo Lounsbury (The Woodworks) and I talk about this often. They hate their bands being seen as “female fronted”.

Marta : Sure that’s a big part of femme identification; that’s why I say cis femme. And yes the experience of someone’s art of through a lens if their identity be it in a label or not. We have to listen to these points of view. We still have a lot of unpacking to do.

Medicine

3. Changing Sound

GW : So that is a lot to ask about the changing sound of your second release.  I read the other interview that you gave Tom Tom Mag, the personal Fleetwood Mac side of the lyrics, but sonically, the band feels heavier. More full. So I guess… is that harder sound but softer message or more personal touch… kind of what you were going for?

Marta : You know that record is over a year old now? Pandemics change things.

Like many veterans of the music industry change is pretty much the only constant. But with a new band, a new lease on life, and a new record, Weekend Lovers were not expecting Covid to come along. But DeLeon is not new to the rodeo. A veteran of several scenes, including Seattle and New York, she finds herself back in Tucson, her hometown. 

“All three of the environments are so dynamic and extreme, I moved to Seattle almost out of high school. It was Indie Rock 101 to me with its cheap shows and all sorts of touring bands like Blonde Redhead, Built to Spill, and the Shins coming through almost monthly. New York in the 80s seemed so romantic with its art and urban decay, I knew I’d end up there at some point in my life. I miss walking a lot there and riding the subway late at night and finishing lyrics or coming up with big emotional ideas for song themes.” DeLeon may not be in the Big Apple anymore, but she’s still working with big emotions. Her heartfelt lyrics are discernible even through layers of reverb. “It was important that the lyrics be heard on this album because they go out to people… A lot of grief influenced by my mom’s sickness and passing and the volcanic family dynamics that surround that, you are never prepared for… along with losing other close people by moving back to Arizona, and of course good old romantic heartbreaks. I’ve moved away from the buried lyric aesthetic of My Bloody Valentine to trying for a more confessional ‘pop’ Fleetwood Mac one.”

Marta DeLeon

It is almost like time stopped. This article, Weekend Lovers Conjure Desert Dreams in New Release, came out in December of 2020 promoting a record that had been beeing produced before the world stopped. And here we are, a year later, and Marta is filming the second music video from her brand new album, with a new group of folks. Pandemic Pivot indeed.

Marta : I am collaborative as I always was since playing rock n roll but the last record 85% songs were started just my bass  and vocal ideas which was a first for me writing that way. I figured I would just kind of start on my own kind of like I did back in 2018 with the first record.

The Meaning of Life – River Phoenix

Prior to returning to Tucson Marta fronted The Meaning of Life, and they released one EP Diamonds & Junkfood. Her sound has definately evolved, as River Phoenix is far more Indigo Girls and My Own Private Idaho than is Baby.

Weekend Lovers

GW : The two folks on the cover of When You Were Weird with you… where did they go?  Did you have to do a total band rebuild for the second record?

Marta : Yeah Hannah has her own band which she always did. Nicky plays with Female Gaze and a few others. I guess it is more of a collective that I work with at the time versus a monogamous relationship that bands are usually modeled after – times have changed too. Bands were hard to keep in sync even before a Pandemic.

The Sundays

GW : Your first record sounds more The Sundays to me… and your second,,,,, more Medicine or Lush…… how much of that changing sound is the changing of the players? 

Marta : I think Matt Rendon goes in with a very crafted /filling the space idea. It’s all 8 track analog. From the drums to back ground vocals to every little guitar flourish. But yeah prop matt being at the helm of playing /arranging with me – Matt does gravitate towards rock and up tempo. And yes some songs were heavier – some heavier than I imagined when I started them. I give my collaborations free reign

LUSH

GW : so is that how you think of the band… collaboratives that change on any given project.  IE… you are the ring leader and you bring in the players that will help mold that versions circus…. or do the players see themselves as in the band.

Marta : I don’t know. I try to present that I’d like to have more of a unit when I moved here but it just hasn’t flowed that way. Some players I’ve met here only like to play pre-recorded stuff for example – not come up with their own. So yeah I had to throw out the romantic visions of my band past but it’s has its pluses. Definitely if it’s just one other person I’m writing with at a time in the studio or practice space, I still get excited about those moments of a new song getting off the ground.You’re right though as this project has progressed and I know more musicians here – So I do think of names: so and so can put on slide guitar, or violin or this overdub.

Ghost Writer : So what is next?

Marta DeLeon : Bisbee on October 30th with The Exbats at The Bisbee Grande Hotel, the players have learned their parts, and I have some stuff I sat on in 2020. I’m working with a guitar player right now, and we will have some new songs in Bisbee. We are also working with our dear friend Andrea Connolly (Birds & Arrows) and a whole bunch of other fun folks on our Music Video for Father Figure… but it is more of a remix actually – kind of dancey!

Oh Yes… It’s Coming Arizona

Part IV: Advice for the Newb

Ghost Writer : You know Marta as a 47 year old guy who has never been a musician who now owns a record label and makes vinyl records at Flying Blanket Recording, I find myself surrounded, almost continually by people who know more than I do, who have seen a bazillion times more than I have seen. So, from one Tucson Native to another…. do you have any advice for the new guy?

Ahh yes! Think of it like trying to date someone. Always allure and allow. Allure with charm, compliments and some mystery. Be accessible but also project your positive standards. The community does want to connect and help each other. I think it’s wonderful you have an eclectic roster. Post social media stuff that might be out of the box. Catch people a little off guard with that. Finally put a lot of energy to people giving you energy.

Marta DeLeon

Thank you Chica. Thank you very much. Keep your greasy side down.