Mass (a)Piel

Interview with alternative band Piel, Out of LA

The only thing better than discovering new music, is doing it on a bright, sunny spring day, on the streets of New York City.

One day, while exploring my new neighborhood, I stopped to check my Instagram, and saw that I had a few new followers, one from LA band, Piel. Normally I wait until I’m good and comfortable at home to listen to bands I’m interested in writing about, but something told me to give a listen right there on the spot. Before I knew it, I was walking down the sidewalk doing those “cool”, quirky movements with my head and hands, spinning around, winking at women, giving guys the “you the man” finger action, like something out of an eighties teen flick. For a moment, I was transported back to those days, revelling in the maniacal madness of the moment, stopping only when I almost ended up on somebody’s windshield.

But Piel aren’t a retro band, and there’s nothing gimmicky about them. Their music is more a feeling than a sound. It feels simultaneously like the bright, colorful irreverent pop sensibilities of the eighties, while maintaining the feel of something completely contemporary. Piel’s influences shine through in their songs, yet they sound like nothing you’ve ever heard. Like a newborn babe, this is all new shit.

Tiki and Jawnee, photograph by by Rich Abagon

Tiki, you’re originally from Chicago. Where in Chi-Town are you from, and what brought you to Los Angeles?

I'm from the inner city south side of Chicago. I grew in one of the projects called Harold Ickes. I came to LA out of curiosity to connect with other music artists.

In a YouTube video, you’re all talking about the formation of Piel, and (guitarist) Steve Abagon mentions how you’ve all come from different musical backgrounds. Having that many influences, how compatible are you when it comes time to compose a song?

Each song composition has a different process and writers. Jawnee and I collaborate to make "the meat" of the song, and then at times we bring a third party to embellish the track, or help us get out of a rut.

There were previous incarnations of the band. Were there creative differences with the members who are no longer in the band, or was it just life, and people moving on to other things?

Just life and people moving on to other things.

Piel performance photograph by by Rich Abagon

I don’t see Piel coming up with a concept for an album when writing your songs and recording. You strike me as the kind of band that just does what it feels like doing, when the moment hits you. Would that be an accurate assessment?

A little of both. We get inspired by whatever's going on in our lives, and write a spurt of songs. Majority of my concepts is write protection and gratitude prayers. When I'm singing the lyrics all the time, my intention is to connect with a clear understanding that I come in peace.

Your new album has songs that aren’t new, is that the case with all of them?

No, some are new , some are old. But to many of the listeners, the music is new. We a have library of tracks that we add to the pot as we go along. As an indie band we have to be creative on how we release our music without huge promo budgets.

Even if I hadn’t seen that video with Tiki and Jawnee, it was apparent to me from watching you perform in other videos, that you are more than just a band, but are family to each other. At what point in the existence of Piel did that become obvious to you all?

Right away upon meeting each other.

You’ve done some shows outside of the U.S., and I hear you’re pretty popular in Ukraine. Where in the world have you been, and how does it feel to have that kind of recognition overseas?

Feels good to give and receive to people in different countries. It was inspiring to feel the energy of an excited crowd that weren't our friends. I was so excited to feel the engagement of the crowd and to meet people in that way. It is a very powerful way to engage through the connection of live music and push through language barriers. Sure beats LA pay to play bullshit and too cool for school town . We travelled to England a few years ago. We've traveled the U.S. a little, and look forward to getting to back Europe and breaking into South America .

Kenny Ramierez, photograph by Rich Abagon

Kenny Ramierez, photograph by Rich Abagon

Chris Lopez, photography by Rich Abagon

There are folks who bemoan that there’s no good music any more, but that’s obviously not true. Who is a current day artist that you listen to?

I like the Meeting Places and Alex Isley. Jawnee's been listening to Trever Powers and Nothing But Thieves.

If your band adhered to a particular philosophy, my guess is that it would be something like “love, peace, and happiness”, “love, peace, and hair grease”, or something to that effect. In your own words, what philosophy (if any) drives Piel?

"Tend to your garden and grow your Business", and "it takes a village to raise a child, and we are the children."

Header image photograph by Robert Ferrone. Check out the new album Tiki Leaks, and Follow Piel at Instagram and Facebook. On August 15th, the band will be playing at The Art Lounge, at 1172 Glendale Blvd. LA, CA 90026. Show starts at 10:00PM.

Hailing from New York City, Patrick Chappelle is the Founder, Publisher and Editor in Chief of Kingdomz X Magazine. A computer geek from day one, Patrick was on the forefront of social communities and has served as a Technical Advisor for NING, Social Media Manager for SiteSuites Software Development, and Community Manager for Gen Y Hub. When he's not scouting local talent, he's either at the health club, or enjoying the sights, sounds, and culture of the city.