Bassist and drummer for Shantih Shantih, Valentina Tapia, has spent most of her summer touring throughout Europe and tending to her flora in Cabbagetown. After telling me about the dream-like gigs the band played in Dijon and Sardinia, Tapia unveiled a pretty impressive repertoire of her go-to songs. Her list includes elements of early '60s French pop (Jacques Dutronc), New Orleans soul (Aaron Neville), and contemporary picks such as Tokyo psyche (Shintaro Sakamoto) and modern indie rock (Unknown Mortal Orchestra).
Besides the Euro tour, what have you been up to this summer? Any last minute plans?
I've been playing guitar on my own and I have a song on Amanda Mill's Big Blonde Records tape compilation. I'm excited for that because it's my first song ever. It's called "Useful Shrine Editions," which is a mouthful, but it's a phrase I read in a book somewhere in life that kind of stuck, even though it means nothing. I also want to make my house a home. I'm cultivating a sort of jungle on my porch - a domesticated jungle scenario. I don't have a green thumb, historically, and I just want to prove to myself that I can keep plants alive and have a beautiful home. I work in an office all day, so I want to feel like I can coexist with things that grow without destroying them.
What's on your summer playlist?
Otis Redding: "A Change is Gonna Come"
The Cookies: "Softly in the Night"
Pylon: "Human Body"
Wipers: "So Young"
Zona: "Vie Pariesienne"
Delphine: "La fermeture eclaire"
Yonatan Gat: "Iberian Passage"
Shintaro Sakamoto: "In a Phantom Mood"
Todd Rundgren: "I Saw the Light"
Unknown Mortal Orchestra: "So Good At Being in Trouble"
Aaron Neville: "How Could I Help But Love You"
The Dynamics: "Misery"
Stereo Total: "Relax Baby Be Cool"
Jacques Dutronc: "Les Cactus"
Los Gatos Salvajes: "Donde Vas"
Les Homards Violets: "Existentialisme des Annees 66"
Tonetta: "Drugs Drugs Drugs"
Tell us about the tour.
It was the worlds best from start to finish, even the nightmare aspects of it were still okay because they were all very character building. Europe takes care of you; we always had a place to stay, unlike touring in the states. We were promoting our single through Shit Music for Shit People, which is an Italian label and Anna (songwriter), she's on the same label with her band in Venice and has released an album on Fat Possum.
We drove to Bordeaux from Anna's family's place in Venice for our first show at Wunderbar, then went to Provence and stayed a night there. Dijon was after that, and it is quintessentially what you think of when you think of Europe. The queen-mother of the scene is this woman Chantal; she books all the gigs, takes in touring bands, and cooked for us. We ran around the city in the middle of the night, drank ginger-infused rum, and were just being kids. We played in Geneva with an American band, the Pharmacy, from Seattle. There was a Swiss DJ trio called Le Delta Freaks Soundsystem, who wore wader overalls and played Delta Blues from the states, so it became a huge dance party.
We went back to Italy, and played in Sardinia, and I've never in my life experienced anything like that before. We had a show in the desert and it looked like a spaghetti western, because they actually shot them there, like Sergio Leone type. Our stage was set up in a national park, with mountains, cacti everywhere, a waterfall, and I had no idea that we were actually playing in this beautiful, giant desert mountain waterfall place with a little dive bar on the side of it. The weirdest part is people actually came. We were in the middle of nowhere, and then two songs deep, we see this industrial, outer space, garbage truck-looking, Mad Max vehicle pull up, and it's obviously not on accident because there's absolutely nothing else around. It stops as we were playing, high beams the lights at us, and all these kids start spilling out of it. Piles and piles of local Sardinian kids just taking, I guess, their version of a shuttle to see the American band. I had never seen anything like that. It was unreal.
Then we went to Rome, and had Italian boys crowd surfing to our cover of "Dream Lover," which was another pinch me moment. Yeah, tour was fun.
How do your tastes in music vary from the other ladies in the Shantih Shantih?
At our core, we all share a foundation of rock 'n' roll, which spans from early '50s incarnations leading into Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry, along with '60s soul, and the Stones. Anna Kramer and Julia Furgiuele share a sort of classic rock affinity, because they really know their shit. Anna and I share more with garage, punk rock, and contemporary styles. Personally, I stray into post-punk, prog, and psyche, maybe since I was a college radio DJ and I'd do a post-punk and a jazz specialty show.
Did you instinctually want Shantih Shantih to be estrogen-only?
I don't think it was intentional in a way that Phil Spector would put a girl group together. The short story is, Anna Barattin moved from Venice, and she was the only girl in a band called Vermillion Sands, and they did very well in Italy. Anna has always played with all guys, and same goes for me. But when Anna moved here, her and Julia eventually became sisters-in-law. Then we all became friends through time and shared a general desire to play music, which is a very vulnerable thing to pick up and do in front of people that you don't know. So at that time, we felt the most comfortable around each other and that shit is rare. When you see something like that happening, you jump on it. Yes, we are girls, but it was just what worked. Some people are surprised by it, but I guess I don't go around consciously aware that I'm a girl until someone says something, like pretty much every time I go to Guitar Center they ask if I want a guitar that will match my dress.
Any pre-show rituals?
I do two minutes of cardio, 45-50 pushups, and then run a couple laps.
Just kidding, that was me trying to be funny. Really, it's just a bunch of me walking around asking if people are ready. Lots of pacing and saying "are ya ready?...are you...ready?" Which is annoying, so I eventually have a drink, tell more jokes than I probably should, talk a lot, and get excited.
What is your music timeline, from childhood to now, and how has it changed?
Michael Jackson's Bad album and Paul Simon's Graceland were very important to me as a little girl and I'd just jump around in the living room. In middle school my babysitter introduced me to pop punk and mall goth baby punk, like Rancid and Operation Ivy, then Dead Kennedys and Crass. Then in the early 2000s, I got into the big indie wave like Interpol, Built to Spill, Nick Drake, and more sensitive stuff.
Then I went to UGA was blown away by the Athens music culture. Fell into the Elephant Six Collective, Neutral Milk Hotel, Circulatory System, Elf Power, and then Pylon! Pylon is fucking incredible. They are so good, immediate, smart, and raw. I started DJing at the college radio station, WUOG 90.5FM, and did regular rotation leading up to my specialty shows. We'd get reissues of Josef K, which has members from Orange Juice, and fell into post-punk in a big way afterwards. My best friend DJed for a psyche night and from there I got into Can and Faust. All this stuff got me to a point where I was studying music at an academic level, and I felt like I didn't know anything. I didn't have any big brothers or sisters teaching me, like most of my friends did, so I had a lot of catching up to do. I went for it and dove into every facet of music.
Since being in Atlanta, now I'm exploring blues and I've had a huge '50s and '60s revelation. After meeting Lance and April Ledbetter from The Dust To Digital Records movement in Atlanta, I was really turned on to folk music. Anything contemporary that's pulling from something, I feel like I have to know what that something is, so I immerse myself in the history of it.
Who would you want to play a show with and why?
I would say the Subsonics, but we already did that, which is crazy because they're my favorite Atlanta band. The first time we got to play with them my head fell off. Then they played our 7-inch release show and I was to the moon. They are forever a favorite. But besides that, Suicide, maybe the Velvet Underground, Tonetta, or basically anyone that's challenging the usual in a new, catchy, on-the-fringe style, while not trying to just make money or be a spectacle, then I'm down.
What are some of your favorite Atlanta-based bands?
I'm really excited about the band Slugga, who are brand new. It has Skip, the owner from Paris on Ponce, who's an amazing guitar player and has been playing music for years. They played their first show at 529 and they blew everyone away, like you could tell by looking around that everyone was thinking the same thing. I like Warehouse, because they sound like Pylon to me and Elaine has a really good presence. Factory is sweet, Asha Lakra is awesome, Concord America really nailed it at Estoria Fest, and Feast of Violet. Also, Suno Deko, and Curtis Harding are killing it.
What are your aspirations for the future?
For the band, we're recording our first full-length album, which I'm so excited about. Then touring around the states, since we kind of kicked off in Europe. I'm dying to go to New York and out West, and we have friends just waiting for us to come. It's great. We're going to put out a music video with the album. Allen Taylor produced my song for the Big Blonde Records tape compilation, and whenever Anna's in Italy and we can't practice, I just work on my own stuff for fun.
And of course, I need to get that jungle growing, buy more records, read more books, and do more pushups.
3 people apparently love handing over an extra 40% in fees for nothing in return…
Dang. I thought they would name some actual headliners.
Forgot to mention that Iggy did a stellar show @ the Agora in the spring…
Their fees were onerous, to say the least. $16 per ticket for "convenience," and it's…
That poster is for the Iggy Pop show on March 11 1983 @ 688 club…
oh sweet: just who i was waiting to get announced!