After six years of playing in the US and abroad, in clubs and at festivals, Tashaki Miyaki will be releasing their first album, The Dream, on April 7, 2017. The two piece band – Paige Stark who plays drums, sings, produces and writes songs and Luke Paquin on guitar and fuzzy guitar. And it is fuzzy most of the time. SF Sonic was able to interview the band prior to the album release.
SF Sonic: Your new video for the song “Girls on T.V.” is directed by James Franco. How did that come about?
Paige Stark: Luke knows James from growing up in Palo Alto and they have remained friends. Luke worked with him in the past on an art piece. We felt like he would be a great director for this video and so we met up with him and he was into it.
SF Sonic: The lyrics of the song immediately bring to mind one thousand sad Hollywood stories. Was that your intention?
Stark: It’s not necessarily meant to be sad. It’s more presenting a perspective on fame culture I was seeing a lot. It’s not a perspective that makes me happy or that I enjoy seeing in the world, but that’s really up to the listener to interpret.
SF Sonic: Some of your songs tell stories. Are these your stories, friends’ stories, or just stories you write?
Stark: I write from a pretty personal place but I try to keep my writing specific enough to be meaningful yet broad enough for a stranger to be able connect to and interpret. In that sense, they are sort of universal stories.
SF Sonic: Can you talk about your musical influences?
Stark: I love a lot of different music. Duke Ellington said, “There are two kinds of music. Good music, and the other kind.” I really agree with that sentiment. I am influenced by so many things but those influences are expanding and changing position all the time. As far as popular/rock music goes some of my big ones are Neil Young, John Lennon, Bowie, the Velvets and all Lou Reed, Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Harry Belafonte, Elivs, Harry Nilsson, Big Star, John Cale, The Everly Brothers, Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave, Tom Waits, The Smiths, Prince, Dylan, Snoop Dogg, and Willie Nelson. Those are the artists I keep going back to and can listen to again and again-there’s more but it’s too many to list…I could fill an entire page of artists who have inspired and influenced me. I a really love jazz and old country music standards as well as film scores like those of Ennio Morricone, Angelo Badalamenti, and Henry Mancini. I love hip-hop and that’s a whole additional list of artists. I love classical music and that’s another list. It’s difficult to list influences. Ultimately, I think I’m influenced by all music that’s good.
SF Sonic: A lot of people hear Mazzy Star and Jesus & Mary Chain in your music, that drone-y shoegaze thing. Do you feel that happening?
Stark: I like both of those bands. Hope Sandoval is a dream. She’s such a powerful singer and performer. It shocks me that more people don’t talk about that. She’s really one of the best singers I’ve ever heard. A truly magical woman so that’s high praise and I can only take that as a compliment. When I listen to David Roback’s guitar playing I can hear the influence of Sterling Morrison, who is also a big influence on us- so there’s that. I like the Jesus & Mary Chain too. Their music has a really specific feel and is transporting for me when I listen to it. We definitely aren’t trying to sound like other artists but we are using reverb and droney guitars and I guess it conjures certain things to other people. I try not to worry too much about what other people compare us to. It isn’t really my concern.
SF Sonic: To me, I hear a lot of 60s sound, especially an updated version of Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound, along with lyrics in your original songs that reflect the youthful yearning that was in so many songs then. Comments?
Stark: I love old pop music. My mom only listened to K-Earth 101, the Beatles, and Elvis when I was a kid and I pretty much know the words to every 50’s & 60’s top 40 pop song. So that’s probably part of it. I also love classic songwriting. Whether it’s Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Felice & Boudleux, or the Brill Building. All those things are a big influence on me. I love old country music too and there’s a lot of that in there. I like to keep the lyrics simple and direct. Neil Young is direct. John Lennon is direct. I find direct is good. Very few people have talent for poetry like Leonard Cohen or Bob Dylan.
SF Sonic: You’ve picked an eclectic collection of covers, from the Everly Brothers to Bob Dylan to Guns ‘n’ Roses to Roxette. How do you pick the covers?
Stark: It’s fairly random. Sometimes it’s just a song I hear on the radio or in Rite Aid and I get it stuck in my head. Sometimes it’s a request from business people. I wanted to cover “Take My Breath Away” after I heard the lounge keyboard player at the Red Lion do a version that was super creepy/dreamy sounding.
SF Sonic: We just covered Cherry Glazerr’s show in San Francisco. You have a history and some connections with the band. Do you ever perform together?
Stark: Yes. We have performed on bills with them in the past, and hopefully in the future too. Clem is like my little sister. Love that girl.
Stark: You can expect to hear several more songs you have not yet heard and a re-imagining of a couple you have heard.
SF Sonic: Finally, we are going to try to send someone out to one of your show in March in LA but would love to see you here in San Francisco. Any plans?
Stark: No plans at the moment but we love San Francisco and hope to get up there soon!
For more information on Tashaki Miyaki, check out their Facebook page.
Watch the video of “Girls on T.V.”:
Photo in body of interview by Marc Gabor.