Hello magical friends! Especially Johannes, the newest member of Team WZRD on Patreon, whose support lets me do these episodes.
I’m your hostwitch Bess and today’s interview is extra-special, because it actually happened last year. So in a sense, we’ll be traveling back to the far-distant year of 2020 to find out what The Lovegoods were up to.
But first, some music. Here’s The Lovegoods with “Granger Bomb.”
Today I’m talking to Elsa, Graham, and Graeme from The Lovegoods. Welcome to the show, y’all!
Elsa: Yay! Thank you! Thanks for having us, Bess.
Graeme: Thank you!
Y’all are one of the–the newer wizard rock bands, right? There’s sort of the first generation from, like, the early 2000s and y’all didn’t start until 2015-16.
Elsa: Yeah. We started on, I think it was July 2016, which seems wild. Isn’t that—
Graeme: Yeah, 4…4 years ago now.
Elsa: And yeah it just started kind of out of the joy of it. At the time I was playing, ah, my own music. Like, a singer-songwriter project and I was on tour across western Canada and I though “When I get home I just wanna play this really fun wizard rock.” And then the three of us were at worship team practice at our church, actually, and I was like “Hey, I have some wizard rock songs, do you want to hear them?” And then I asked Graham—drummer Graham—”do you want to be in the band?” And he’s like “Sure” so literally just happened and it’s been great.
So what was your, ah, original impetus? Did you hear a performance by another band or were you just struck by inspiration?
Elsa: I think around 2006 or…2007…I discovered Harry and the Potters and I just remember dancing around my apartment with my roommate and her boyfriend and we were, like, throwing ourselves off of couches…And I just remember having so much fun and thinking “this is just fun music.” And I also became obsessed with the world of Harry Potter. It just seemed like I needed a bit more joyous music in my life and I wanted to play with other people, cuz I was used to playing solo. I have a really great time playing with the Gramz so…It’s been awesome.
Gramz, what was your first thought when Elsa was like “I wanna play Harry Potter music?”
Graeme: Oh yeah, I was all in! It’s like “This is gonna be a great time!” I’m always up for some, some good rock ‘n’ roll and it didn’t take long for me to be on board.
Graham: Yeah, I had no idea what wizard rock was, but when your friend says “Hey, do you want to play my Harry Potter–
Graham: –songs, the only appropriate answer is “absolutely I do. And, uh, yeah. It’s been a fun time. I’ve kind of learned about the world since then.
My patrons were curious about where you draw your musical style inspiration from.
Elsa: Ooh. So, how—how it works is, I will write the songs and then I bring it to the band and they help me—we all flesh it out together. The songs and my style for the Lovegoods I’d say are inspired by tons of people. A little bit Buffy Sainte-Marie for vocals…Yeah Yeah Yeahs… There’s a band called Alvvays from the Maritimes in Canada, spelled with a double V and double A, Alvvays… Oh, tons of people… Like, bands that I just grew up listening to. Probably even a bit of Weezer, even though I don’t really listen to them now, but you know what I mean?
Graeme: Yeah. It’s like the west coast grunge mixed with, like, the east coast garage rock, really. Like, Yeah Yeah Yeahs…
Elsa: A bit of everybody.
Elsa: I didn’t grow up listening to Pixies at all though.
Graeme: No. I guess that’s where I get a lot my of energy from, for playing bass–
Graeme: Is the Pixies and Breeders, and then tapping into, like, Sleater-Kinney and Nirvana for some of that other kind of laid-back, unpolished rock ‘n’ roll.
A lot of wrock performers are soloists, or primarily singer-songwriter with occasionally other musicians joining in for recording or performances, but you all are a consistent trio. What is that like, to always be a team?
Elsa: It’s kind of changed a little bit during the pandemic, actually, especially when we weren’t living in the same house. It’s a really neat situation. We all live in the same giant, magical old house, just on different floors in different units. Right now we’re socially distanced with Graham, the drummer. And then Graeme and I are married with a little daughter, and another little daughter on the way. During the pandemic I have been doing more acoustic shows by myself because of this but prior too, it was always us. And I prefer it like that. It’s…it’s great.
Elsa: I think it takes the load off of me, like, I always look forward to playing Lovegood stuff.
Graeme: It’s just so much fun to be playing with friends. And by this point we know the songs so well and we love playing them. And, yeah, we always have amazing support from the fans and the crowds when we play together and it just kinda…Yeah, we have a great rapport. I have a blast on stage. We’ve got our moments now in the songs, you know? It’s like those little spots that you look forward to.
Elsa: Yeah, we definitely feed off of each other’s energy. I miss playing, like, live shows with, like, an audience, for sure.
Yeah, I think we all miss that. You said that you do some of the songwriting together, is it an effortless project for you three or is there some clashing at times.
Elsa: I primarily write all the songs and then I’ll bring the song and then these guys will make up their parts. At times though I’ll say “Oh, I’m not sure, you know, about this bridge. Where should we put it?” And then, you know, I’ll consider their input and then we can change it together. No, I wouldn’t say there’s too much clashing. What would you say? I’m usually the one who’s kind of the annoying—
Graeme: No, it’s–
Elsa: –the annoying one.
Graeme: –the songs come pretty fully formed, in a sense. Like, Elsa’s got the song developed and the melody’s there and the structure’s there and all of that. And then it’s just like, we sit down and throw down the rhythm section together, the Gramz.
Elsa: I think there probably would be some clashing—I do find it a little bit tricky to songwrite with other people. I haven’t done too much of it… But it’s mostly just me so there hasn’t been too much—too much clashing.
Graham: We know our place.
Elsa: [laughs] Eek!
Yeah, making Elsa do all the work. No, I hear.
Elsa: Yeah. We had this—remember, we had that not, like, competition, but you guys were supposed to write a song.
Graeme: Oh right!
Graham: But we just didn’t.
Elsa: Yeah, you just didn’t. But it—
Graham: But you did it. It got done.
Graeme: I got a first verse done.
Elsa: But it worked cuz then that’s how I wrote “I’ve Got Friends.” So you just have to keep saying “Let’s all write a song” and then I’ll just keep writing—actually having to write songs, like out of obligation.
Well, that is certainly one method.
Graham: We’ll often say, like, “Oh, we should do a song about this” but then just kind of leave it on you.
Elsa: Yeah, and I’m like “that’s okay!”
Graham: Our favorite part of our book and like “do this!”
Elsa: Yeah, we should write down all of your ideas. And then burn them! Haha! …just kidding.
It’s time for some music. First up is Essence of Dittany with “The Snatchers.”
One of my WZRD patrons made the connection that one of the Gramz has a side project, the Forbidden Forest.
Graeme: Oh yes. Yup.
So you’re not entirely immune to songwriting.
Graeme: Yeah, I’ve written songs here and there throughout my life. Personally I’m a huge fan of, like, ambient music. And I had this—been sitting on, like, an idea for an ambient music project and I was like “hey, this’d be really fun to do an ambient music wizard rock side project.” I finally got around to do it this, this year, after floating it by some other friends in the scene and hearing a lot of support for it so… I’ve got one track out. It’s kind of like my origin story, I guess, for the band, for the project. “Born of the Centaurs,” so, tapping into the myth of the Forbidden Forest’s beginnings. But yeah, so it’s just heavily ambient influenced, the idea just being giving, I don’t know, in general it could just be like giving people space to sit and relax or whatever they need to in eight minutes of quiet music.
Elsa: You’re almost done another song too.
Graeme: Yeah, I’ve got my second track in the works as well.
Elsa: Or was that secret?
Graeme: No it’s not. It’s not secret. I was hoping to get a second one out in the second half of the year so–
Graeme: –stay tuned!
What made you decide to do “The Forbidden Forest” as opposed to, I don’t know, “The Slytherin Dungeons” or “Ravenclaw Tower?”
Graeme: Oh wow.
Elsa: Oh, I love that too!
Graeme: Those are both great too.
Graham: Those’ll be side-side projects.
Graeme: Side-side projects. I have a long list of side project ideas, but–
Elsa: It’s true.
Graeme: –one at a time.
Graham: Story of your life.
Graeme: Yeah, seriously. The Forbidden Forest, it comes out of my interest in nature/nature themes. In a lot of my art I draw on nature and in, in many ways kind of as an advocacy for it.
Elsa: Graeme’s a poet, too. He has a chap book, and a lot of his poems are environmental and nature based. So that’s what you mean—
Elsa: –by that, right?
Graeme: Yeah, that’s it. Environmental, like, yeah. I don’t know if so far as ‘activism,’ I don’t know if I’m that strong of a personality. So the idea behind the Forbidden Forest was to channel the Harry Potter world through my media towards a kind of environmental awareness.
Kind of like Mary Oliver, the poet.
Graeme: Yeah, that’d be a good connection for sure.
For either musical project, what’s a mistake that you made early on, or recently, that new wrockers might be able to learn from?
Elsa: Oh yeah. Hm. Hm hm hm…hm hm… Well, you go—
Graham: Vet the wizard rock conferences that you go to before going to them.
Elsa: It’s true!
Graham: There was just, a couple years ago, there was like twentieth anniversary–
Grahame: –every small town in our area was doing a wizard rock show and we were just so excited. A lot of them were just flops.
Elsa: Yeah….It’s just hard cuz you wanna believe in, that, you know these people. Cuz it, a lot of the small—they weren’t even conventions, like almost county fair type of vibes but Harry Potter themed…buncha cutie fans wanting to have a good time but really not organized. And no one came!
Elsa: What was that one? It was like 40 degrees Celsius and I was—wasn’t I pregnant? Anyway, it was not fun. Well, we always have a good time together. But it was like “All right! Are you ready, everybody!?” and it’s like two people. For me I think…well, one thing that I’ve learned is really going with your gut in terms of organizers and how they’re treating you. If it’s not feeling good to begin with just kind of go with that. If you’re not feeling like there’s a mutual respect then just kinda end it. I’ve been in a couple situations—and these guys have always, like, been a support to me, emotionally. But oi I’ve had quite a few nasty email conversations. I’ve learned from that just to only agree to things that bring us joy and continue that theme overall. So like this interview with you is really nice. We’re just in our garage.
As one does.
How do you vet a program? What would be red flags to look for—or green flags to look for?
Graeme: Hm, yeah. I think, like Elsa was saying, part of it is how are you being treated? How’s the conversation? Just remembering, like, you have value and your heart has value and you deserve respect. So if that respect is not there—
Elsa: I think…
Graeme: I think that would be a red flag.
Elsa: I think Graham was talking more about like…what were you meaning, Graham? Were you talking about, like, their flopping in terms of no one coming?
Graham: Both, yeah. Make sure it’s worth it, like, yeah. And then I think you just had situations where the promoters weren’t doing good with back-and-forth, or you wouldn’t–
Graham: –hear from them or things like that, yeah.
Graham: I guess just question “how much are we putting into this” versus “what are we getting out.”
Elsa: Yeah. For me it’s just how I’m feeling I’m being treated by the person on the other end. I think there was just the one situation and that kinda lasted a couple years and then now they’re not in business anymore.
Oh my goodness. What I’m hearing is you’re very powerful.
Elsa: Yeah right. Oh dear. I just remember after our performance, my voice gave out. I was getting over a cold or something, and we had to cut our set short and I felt so bad. I think was tearing up and I was going—
Graham: You were, like, super pregnant too.
Elsa: I was very, yeah. I was super pregnant and I was going to get my free butterbeer at this cute little tent where Dumbledore—do you remember Dumbledore?
Graeme: Oh, yes!
Elsa: He was at a couple convention things. And he was so sweet and he gave me a hug and he didn’t even know I was crying and…anyways. That was at least a good way to end that chapter with that particular event.
Elsa: But yeah, we’re just “go with our guts” on things.
Elsa: And it tends to work out.
Graeme: Cuz even that small one that there was nobody at–
Elsa: It was—
Graeme: It was still so adorable.
Elsa: They were nice people.
Graeme: Every band’s got their story of playing to an empty—empty room.
Elsa: Yeah, I never mind that.
Graeme: But it was like–
Elsa: It’s just mean people.
Graeme: Even the sound people, we had some of the best sound at that little space for ourselves…
Graham: He put me on to a few new bands too.
Graeme: And, like, we had a giant, delicious meal, and there were adorable people, but it was just–
Graeme: –nobody was there.
Elsa: We all have different standards too. We’ve had a pretty good overall experience, I’d say.
Graeme: Oh yeah.
Elsa: Another one would be just not over-scheduling yourself so that you—cuz I do that sometimes—so that it feels like a burden. But yeah, I think we’re pretty good at that. And, uh, at least this strange time has forced us to be really picky, you know, take on things that we feel good about. I think each of us have different standards for what is a flop and what isn’t. For me it’s just there has to be, like, a good vibe and mutual respect and I don’t—I really don’t mind playing the occasional tiny tiny show where there’s one or two people. But it’s even worth it if there’s one or two people and they’re like “oh my goodness I—I love your music and I’m a Hufflepuff!” and it just like, oh it’s so nice.
So it sounds like that’s a skill you develop over time, learning what is a valuable opportunity for you.
Elsa: Yeah. We’ve been treated well overall. We always get paid. And often there’s even good food.
Well, perfect! I don’t know what else you could ask for.
And, finally, what are you all working on? Both the Lovegoods and Forbidden Forest, now that we know there’s something happening.
Elsa: The Lovegoods, not really any—not too much, but I do want to record, and I’ve been saying this for a while, but record the “I’ve Got Friends” track. And I think that we can do it. Graeme and I were talk—it’s probably weird as a listener, “which Gram is she referencing?”—Graeme Bass-Graeme
Graeme: Bass-Graeme and Drummer-Graham
Elsa: –were talking about recording it and how we could during the pandemic and I think it’s definitely doable. And, um, we have an artist friend who would like to work with us on a music video and I think it would just be amazing! So that’s what we would like to work on. And then I had a couple songs I was working on. I’ve been focusing this season kind of mostly on my other project, which is just called Elsa Jane so I put out a couple songs recently with that. I find that, just cuz of the pandemic, it’s a bit more natural for me cuz it’s solo. But yeah, that’s what we hope to do with the Lovegoods, is record a little bit and write some more.
Graeme: Mhm. Yeah. I’d like to, before the end of 2020, hopefully get the second Forbidden Forest track out. So that’s mostly under way, got the general themes. So we’ll see where it goes!
I look forward to hearing both of those.
Let’s take another music break. Here’s Fool of a Took with “All of Us at Once.”
That was “All of Us at Once” by Fool of a Took [lyrics], “Chocolate Frogs and Licorice Wands” by Scych, Fred Lives with “Butterbeer,” and “A Foolish Ravenclaw” by The Secret Broom Cupboard of Salazar Slytherin.
Let’s get back to the interview!
Thank you so much to The Lovegoods for hanging out and chatting with me!
Elsa: Thank you for your thoughtful questions!
Graeme: Thank you!
Elsa: It’s been a pleasure and it’s just kind of like, during this time a good reminder of the—the greater world around us. It’s a good reminder to me of just, like, this sweet little band that we have, I think too. So thank you.
Ah, no. Y’all are a delight and I’m very glad that you agreed to come on. Until we can all be together again at LeakyCon, where can WZRD Radio listeners find you online?
Elsa: You can find us on BandCamp, so theLovegoods.BandCamp.com, and also just our website is TheLovegoods.com. And we’re on Twitter. I think our handle is TheLovegoodz, but with a zed instead of an s.
Do you want to Plug the Forbidden Forest too or…
Graeme: Oh, um..
Elsa: Yeah, do it.
Congratulations to Bart and Jennifer, who were the first ones to guess Episode 20’s theme of “Luna Lovegood!”
Links to the songs you heard today are included in the transcript at WZRDRadioPod.WordPress.com. If you heard a song you like, consider buying it to support the artist. Without their amazing talent, we wouldn’t be here.
If you’ve got two muggle dollars a month burning a hole in your pocket, check out the WZRD Radio Patreon at Patreon.com/WZRDRadioPod. My magical patron friends let me do this second episode every month as well as support the Yes All Witches grant in their mission to support queer and BIPoC artists in wizard rock.
If you want to tell me your favorite Lovegoods song, say hi, or just keep in touch, you can find me on Twitter at WZRDRadioPod. If you’re not on Twitter, you can leave a comment on the transcript or email me your thoughts at WZRDRadioPod@gmail.com.
And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for—The Lovegoods!